The Miracle of the Monarch Migration

The next installment in our Monarch Butterfly blog series has arrived. Here at Bay Haven Inn, we invite you to witness the miracle of the Monarch migration. Our butterfly garden is the perfect haven for these endangered butterflies to rest on their long journey south.

Why do Monarchs Migrate?

These incredible butterflies travel up to 3,000 miles to complete their reproduction cycle. The Monarchs of Eastern North America overwinter in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico. West Coast Monarchs spend their winters near San Diego, California. This generation of butterflies stays in the South from November through March. When it starts heating up in the spring, they finish maturing and reproduce. Their offspring then begins the journey back north for the summer. Monarchs are the only butterfly that performs a two-way migration like birds. Here are a few fun facts about the migrations of Monarch butterflies on the Eastern Coast:

  • As Milkweed plants age, their nectar sources decrease.
  • Migrating Monarchs go through reproductive diapause, meaning they do not reproduce until they are in the right conditions.
  • Monarchs rest on Oyamel Fir trees in central Mexico, where they overwinter.
  • The spring migration ends diapause, and the Monarchs breed and lay eggs as they fly back up the coast.
    • Monarchs lay between 100-300 eggs in their lifetime.
    • Eggs hatch four days after being laid.
  • It is usually the fourth generation of these migrating Monarchs that restart the migration south.
  • Scientists aren’t sure how Monarchs know where to go, but they hypothesize that they use the sun, moon, stars, and Earth’s magnetic field to navigate. 

Help Them Along

Our pollinator garden has four different varieties of Milkweed. This nectar-producing plant is crucial to the survival of migrating Monarchs. The toxins in the plant’s leaves protect the butterfly larvae from predators and give them a place to form a chrysalis. Check out our Growing Milkweed for Monarchs blog to see how you can plant the perfect pollinator garden to help the Monarchs! 

Witness the Beauty of the Migration

The Monarch migration begins in September and continues through late October. The Eastern Shore is the perfect place to witness the beauty of the Monarch migration. The Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to start. Here the Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory counts and tags the butterflies so they can monitor their health. Visitors are more than welcome to watch the process. If you don’t want to venture too far, our pollinator garden and the porch here at Bay Haven are excellent for relaxing and watching the Monarchs. 

There is so much you can do to help these butterflies along their way, whether it’s planting a pollinator garden of your own, planting Milkweed along migration routes, or simply sitting and marveling as they flutter by. We here at Bay Haven Inn welcome you to enjoy our little corner of the Eastern Shore. Book your stay with us just in time to usher in the miracle of the monarch migration.

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