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Wildlife Wednesday: Monarchs

It’s Wildlife Wednesday and spring is right around the corner! March 14th is National Learn about Butterflies Day which brings us to this Wildlife Wednesday species. Soon warmer weather, sunshine, and rain showers will cause resting plants to sprout from the soil once again. The first new shoots of milkweed will tell us that monarch butterflies are not far behind. This is because milkweed is the one type of plant monarch “moms” can lay their eggs on- it’s the only food that their caterpillars will eat! Milkweed is called the host plant for monarchs.

Monarchs are known for their unique winter survival strategy- they migrate south to the oyamel fir forests of Mexico- a journey of up to 2,500 miles! This week, they are headed back north to Texas and surrounding states, where they will locate new milkweed plants using special sensors in their feet. Once there, these tired butterflies will lay their eggs and end their travels. Their offspring will continue to head north and arrive in Southeast Michigan right when our milkweed sprouts from the fresh spring soil. We look forward to the arrival of these beauties in late May!

Monarchs can be found throughout the Metroparks. The adult butterflies drink nectar from many types of flowers, so look for them on wildflowers and in gardens.

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