The Ridges Sanctuary

Preservation, Education, and Research

Monarch Madness

Monarch Butterfies

You’re probably no stranger to the Monarch butterfly. In fact, they are one of the most studied species in North America! But what makes them so special?

The monarch butterfly undertakes one of the most impressive migrations of the insect class. Every year, the last generation of Monarchs that hatch from their chrysalides will travel from Canada or the northern United States down to the mountains of central Mexico.

The monarch lifecycle starts with the adult butterfly laying an egg on a milkweed plant. Milkweed is essential to the monarch lifecycle. While the poisonous chemistry of the plant isn’t harmful to caterpillars, it can be deadly for hungry vertebrate predators. Milkweed is the main food source for growing caterpillars, which hatch from their eggs and eat their way through entire plants. After about 10-14 days, monarch caterpillars will form a chrysalis. They will transform into the adult butterfly in another 10-14 days, then hatch from their chrysalis and fly to other milkweed plants looking for food and mates.

Throughout the summer, the lifecycle of the monarch butterfly is 2-5 weeks. However, the last generation to hatch every summer will not mate. Instead, they will migrate between 2,000 and 3,000 miles to central Mexico to overwinter! This is no small feat for the Monarch butterfly, and it takes conservation efforts across the United States, Mexico, and Canada to provide habitat and create awareness of the migration in order to safeguard this species.

Every August, we rear Monarch butterflies in our nature center to spread awareness and educate the public about monarchs and on the ways in which we can help them. Stop by our nature center to see our monarch caterpillars!

On August 26th, we’ll be hosting our Annual Monarch Madness event! More details to come, but be sure to get your monarch tagging hands ready because for $5 per tag you can help with an international citizen science monitoring program by tagging a monarch before it heads out on its long journey to Mexico.

Monarch Madness will start at 10:00am with a Butterfly Story Time for young children and families, followed by our Tagging Event from 11:00am-1:00pm. Sponsor a Monarch Butterfly for $5 - *quantities limited. All Monarch Madness events will take place at our Nature Center, 8166 State Highway 57, Baileys Harbor.

*We do have a limited number of monarch butterflies available to tag, so plan to get to the Center promptly at 11:00am if you’d like to sponsor a monarch. In addition, we will be offering tags for $5 each to take home and tag monarch butterflies in your community!

To learn more about Monarch butterflies and their migration, visit the resources below: