We are living in the winter home of the west coast population of Monarch butterflies. Those living east of the Rockies go to Mexico, while those living west of the Rockies come here to the Central Coast of California.
Now, migration of birds, beasts and insects is amazing in itself, but the migration of these Monarch can blow your mind! They range from the Rockies to the Pacific and north to to southern Canada. When the northern temperatures begin dropping, the butterflies head south to escape freezing weather. Some have traveled over 1,000 miles as they seek shelter in the trees from San Francisco to San Diego. About 20 miles from us, Pismo Beach State Park is host to one of the largest populations of Wintering Monarchs.
These winter Monarchs live about six to eight months. In February, as the days start getting warmer, the migration begins north. The females feed on developing milkweed plants and laying their eggs along the way. As the job of the winter Monarchs finishes, they soon die. And this is where the migration story gets interesting. The eggs hatch after a few days and they begin feeding on their only food, milkweed plants. They eat day and night, increasing their weight 2,700 times in just two weeks. This is the equivalent to a human baby growing to the size of a gray whale in just two weeks!
For the next two weeks that little yellow and black caterpillar goes into chrysalis stage and emerges as a butterfly. These summer Monarchs continue flying, north, mating, and laying their eggs on more milkweed plants. Each of these generations only live about 6-8 weeks. This cycle repeats itself 4-5 times during the summer.
It is unknown to scientist, how many successive generations can inherit the information to return to the over-wintering grounds in the south, but as October rolls around the latest generation does not mate, but instead, heads south to begin the job of mystifying scientists.
God, through his Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, gave his take on migrations. They do what they do because that’s the way He made them, unlike mankind who refuses to pay attention of God’s directions.
Jeremiah 8: 6-8
7 Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the LORD.
8 ” ‘How can you say, “We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD,” when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely? (NIV)