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Minnesota State Butterfly
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The Minnesota State Butterfly is the Monarch butterfly. The Monarch is one of our Minnesota State Symbols. The Monarch is also called the milkweed butterfly because the milkweed is its favorite food. The Monarch was designated as the state butterfly in 1998.
We snapped this photo at Dunton Locks recreation area near Detroit Lakes.
We raised our five kids on a hobby farm in central Minnesota. Milkweed plants were abundant on the farm therefore Monarch butterflies were everywhere in summer.
Sadly, that is no longer the case. The Monarch population has decreased by 90% since the 1990's. This is due to increased population growth in their breeding areas as well as environmental threats.
A good book to help us understand what Monarchs need to survive and thrive is: Monarchs and Milkweed
Milkweed seed can be ordered online. We add to our milkweed garden every year and are rewarded with lots of visits from Monarchs and other beautiful butterflies.
Raise Monarch Butterflys
A favorite activity of our children was to "raise butterflies." Here is how we did this:
- Use a large 1 quart size glass jar with a lid.
- Poke holes in the lid.
- Fill the jar with milkweed.
- Find a couple of Monarch catterpillars and place them in the jar with the milkweed.
- Make sure the lid is on tightly. (We had a few escapees over the years.)
- The caterpillars will soon spin cocoons (anywhere from 1 - 2 weeks after you place them in the jar.)
- It will be about another 2 weeks before the Monarch butterlies "hatch."
- As the Monarch butterfly develops within the cocoon, you will see the chrysalis darken and become somewhat transparent. You will be able to see the orange and black wings.
- At this point it is just a day or so until the butterfly will emerge.
- Keep a close watch and, when your butterfly does emerge, give it a while to rest and allow its wings to dry.
- You can now release your butterfly into the outdoors and enjoy watching it fly.
This photo was taken in September, 2016 by our niece.
You can help save Monarch Butterflies by planting Milkweed in your garden. Learn how: Save Our Monarchs
The Minnesota State Butterfly does what some other residents of the state do in winter. It heads south! While most species of butterfly live their lives in one location, the Monarch is famous for being a migrating butterfly.
They are found as far north as Canada, yet migrate south to Mexico and Baja California.
A Monarch butterfly lives about four weeks so, obviously, they do not all make the trip south. Usually there are four cycles, or generations, of Monarchs that hatch during a Minnesota summer. Those who come last are the ones who migrate to a warmer climate. These butterflies fly at a height of up to 400 feet and for up to eighty miles a day to reach the mountains of Mexico. They then spend the winter in semi-hibernation.
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