Monarch butterflies are leaving Mexico, flying north, reversing their migration from last fall. Bright orange, mosaic clouds are moving towards Texas with females drifting down to lay eggs along milkweed corridors . . . thus fulfilling their destiny.
They along with the males will have lived around eight months, which is a pretty long life for a butterfly.
Many flew thousands of miles last fall, from as far as Canada, to reach their overwintering sites high in the boreal forests of Mexico.
Now, the new generation of Monarchs will take over and continue the migration further north until the fourth generation will finally reach Massachusetts and even as far as Canada.
I so look forward to their return here in Western Massachusetts. If the weather is good for their continued metamorphosis and migration, I might expect to see my first Monarch butterfly soaring into the landscape by mid May. I fondly recall the many butterflies I raised and released in the gardens last summer and fall.It is always a privilege and incredibly captivating to see a butterfly successfully lift off onto its very first flight.
Whispering ‘Good Luck!’ I marvel as the new butterfly flies out into the gardens and landscape, knowing they will have a perilous journey ahead.
All the butterflies I release, along with others migrating south from Canada will find plenty of nectar rich blooms in the gardens and fields.
I would like to go further back into late Spring 2011 and share some of the Monarch butterflies that graced my life.
Last year my first monarch arrives in the gardens in June.I was lucky to eye her laying an egg on a young milkweed plant. This female monarch may have lived her life as a caterpillar and after a stunning metamorphosis takes flight from North Carolina to reach our Western Massachusetts land.
You can scroll down through the next photographs to see what becomes of her egg in about four weeks time.
After a couple of days the egg will reveal life within and soon a tiny caterpillar emerges. Following two weeks of munching, a chrysalis is unveiled and another two weeks pass by, as the butterfly forms within.
Butterflies are so fragile while their wings are drying.
This magical cycle of metamorphosis is about to happen again . . . across many lands . . . just as spring is about to officially unfurl.
All photographs by Carol Duke at Flower Hill Farm Retreat.