Monarch butterflies have been a part of my life since my grandmother taught me how to raise them from the fields she grew up in. My brother and I grew up in the same old farmhouse my grandmother did, raising Monarchs from the same field. In turn, Jon and I built our home on the same land. Our kids loved the land and the Monarchs, especially Ethan.
Around the age of five Ethan was diagnosed on the Autism spectrum with a special obsession for the Monarch butterfly. The Monarchs became Ethan’s therapy. They built up his gross motor skills as he practiced running and catching them in a net. We could see his hair flying in the breeze as he ran back and forth, back and forth in the sunlit field. The Monarchs inspired him to draw, and increased his fine motor skills so he could use a pencil. The Monarchs brought him joy and purpose, they brought us hope. The Monarch butterfly was healing our son.
Ethan is a butterfly whisperer. Trails we walked near our home would be void of any fluttering activity, unless Ethan was along and a Monarch would gracefully land on his shirt. As we travel, butterflies in various states suddenly appear in remote places and numerous times has landed to kiss his nose. On days Jon and I were questioning this lifestyle, a butterfly would pass by trailing serenity. It is as if they speak, “It is all going to be okay.”
When we learned the Monarchs living west of the Rocky Mountain Range winter in California and not Mexico, we had to plan on making a stop at the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove. As of today, there are about 29,900 Monarchs gathered here for the winter. It is amazing how after four generations they still find their way back to the same place.
The Monarchs look like dead leaves on the trees.
As we stood under the tree canopy we watched them glide above in delight.
- Monarchs typically live 2-6 weeks, the hibernating generation lives 8-9 months
- Monarchs living east of the Rocky Mountains are declining perhaps from lack of milkweed plants in their summer homes (pesticides)
- They can fly 12-25 mph
- Males have a black dot on their wings
- Butterflies have the broadest visual spectrum of any known animals and can see UV light.
The Monarchs remind me to trust in the wind.