Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Watch a Monarch Caterpillar's Heart Beat

This is really an amazing video.  You can see the pulsing heart beat of the caterpillar.  I'm having trouble getting my links to show up, but if you hover your cursor next to the colon, you should find it: A Monarch's Heartbeat.

Meanwhile, I only have one caterpillar in the chrysalis stage right now.  When this little guy emerges he or she will fly off, mate and produce the eggs of the generation destined to migrate all the way to Mexico or California for the winter.

A monarch lives 6-8 weeks, from egg to butterfly.  Each year there are four generations of monarchs. The migrating butterflies head north and lay their eggs in March/April, giving life to that year's 1st generation.  When they become butterflies, they will begin the cycle again in May and June for the second generation.  The third generation is born in July and August and the fourth in September/October. This last generation is unique.  They do not die.  Instead, they migrate south to Mexico and California, where they will hibernate until February or March and they start their long flight back north where the cycle will begin again.

The flowering milkweed smells like honesuckle
But to continue this miraculous cycle, monarchs need milkweed.  It is the only plant they lay their eggs on and the only plant the growing caterpillars feed on.  Without it, they cannot exist.  Unfortunately, the fields and pastures where these plants once flourished have been uprooted by shopping malls and houses.  So, I urge you to set aside a small corner in your garden and plant some milkweed.  Don't like to garden?  Plant some anyway. It will grow in spite of you.  And next summer you can enjoy watching this cycle of life play out in your own backyard. It's worth it.

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