|Monarch butterfly, Lake El Dorado, Butler County, Kansas|
September in Kansas, the harsh summer sun is gone and cooler temperatures bring the annual migration of Monarch butterflies south to Mexico. The Monarchs fill the fields and gardens, feasting on a multitude of Golden Rod and Thistle.
What is amazing is that this is a fourth generation of Monarchs that has progressed from egg to caterpillar, then chrysalis, and finally adult butterfly within a short life cycle of 6 to 8 weeks.
But our Kansas Monarchs do not die so quickly, this specialized group makes its way to Mexico and lay dormant until the following February and March when they will awaken and lay their eggs to begin the marvelous cycle of migration again.
A month or two, think about that. An entire life encompassed in 30 to 60 days. That is the life of most Monarch butterflies from egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and finally butterfly. The egg grows about 4 days. It hatches as a caterpillar (larvae) and then munches milkweed, for about 2 weeks. The caterpillar's life inside the chrysalis (pupa) lasts 10 days, and its life as a butterfly floating and flittering on its journey north and south from 2 - 6 weeks.