Monarch Butterfly Migration

Monarch Butterfly Migration and Generations
Monarch Caterpillar on Milkweed
Monarch Butterfly Migration and Generations
Monarch Butterfly

Some people have asked questions that show confusion about monarch butterfly migration. The idea that one butterfly migrates from northern latitudes to Mexico and back is incorrect. The monarch’s life begins in March and April as eggs on milkweed plants. They hatch into tiny caterpillars in about four days. After two weeks, the full-grown caterpillar will attach itself using silk to make a chrysalis. In about ten days, a butterfly will emerge and fly away. The butterfly will feed on flowers and fruit for two to six weeks. This first-generation monarch will die after laying eggs for the second generation.

The four-stage life cycle of the second, third, and fourth generations is the same as what we just outlined, but the fifth generation is different. The fifth generation is born in September and October, but the butterflies don’t die after two to six weeks. They complete the monarch butterfly migration to warmer climates in Texas, California, and Mexico. There, they hibernate for six to eight months, and the whole process starts again.

We have talked about hummingbirds, where one individual makes the journey from northern areas to subtropical climates. In the case of monarch butterfly migration, the journey involves five generations. How they make such a journey with five individuals who never see each other is the object of several studies. It seems rather obvious that their DNA has a built-in GPS, allowing this incredible journey. No one would suggest that a GPS is a product of blind mechanistic chance. There has to be a design to enable such a system to work. That design is the product of an intelligence that is not only built into the GPS but also the instructions for what to do in each of the four steps of this remarkable insect’s life.

God is the designer of the monarch butterfly migration system, and the design features we are coming to understand reflect God’s wisdom and purpose. What a great time we live in, to be able to understand the complexities of life and yet know there is still much for us to learn.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Data from Old Farmer’s Almanac