I've loved butterflies since I was a kid. Of all the insects they seem to be the nicest. They don't try to sneak in the house at night when you leave the door open on a warm summer night. And when it comes to beauty and grace, they are pretty hard to beat.

The Monarch Butterfly is one of my favorites. Like many things you see every year in South Dakota, there is more to the Monarch than you might think. As it turns out, we have some Monarch Butterfly experts in the area. I was recently down the 'Monarch' Rabbit hole and came across an article in South Dakota Magazine. John Andrews wrote the article and stated:

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"The life cycle of monarchs is six to eight weeks, but the butterflies that hatch in South Dakota in August live an incredible six to eight months. When autumn arrives, they fly the entire 2,500 miles to the Oyamel fir forests, where they hibernate through the winter, often in the same trees as their ancestors. When they reawaken and fly north in the spring, they lay eggs, which dramatically shortens their lifespan. Soon, they die. The process repeats as the butterflies slowly progress northward. The monarchs that arrive here around Mother’s Day are the fourth generation descendants of those that departed last fall."

My fascination with the Monarch Butterfly started in the fall of 1996. That fall, we had what looked to be a LOT of Monarch's in our yard that fall. I also remember we had a difficult winter that year. Long, cold, difficult. I know it had nothing to do with the butterflies, but that's when I started to read more about them and their incredible journey.

This fall, watch for them. Heck, Google it for yourself. We live in such a pre-fabricated fake world, when you think about The Monarch Butterfly journey and how they do it without Google Maps or a smartphone you too will be amazed.

Oh, and it's pretty easy to tell a female from a male Monarch Butterfly. According to Worlldlife.org;

Males who possess distinguishing black dots along the veins of their wings, are slightly bigger than females. Each adult butterfly lives only about four to five weeks.

See the rest of John Andrew`s story in South Dakota Magazine here.

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