October saw the beauty of migration. What seemed like millions of monarchs floated overhead on their long journey to Mexico. They were like feathers on the wind, so graceful. I am always astonished at how such seemingly fragile creatures can endure so much and travel so far.
I wondered how far they actually travel and found this record: “A tagged male monarch (Danaus plexippus), released by Donald A. Davis (Canada) at Presqu’ile provincial Park near Brighton, Ontario, Canada, on 10 September 1988, was recaptured on 8 April 1989 in Austin, Texas, U.S.A., travelling an estimated 2880 miles, making this the World’s Longest Butterfly Migration according to the Guinness World Records Ltd (Davis, 2005)
But usually a single monarch doesn’t make the entire trip. Monarch butterflies may take as many as five generations to make it from Mexico to southern Canada and back again (Main, 2013). Each generation is made up of four distinct life cycles – that’s 20 separate states of being.
Which came first the monarch or the egg? (The Science of monarchs)
So, this is where it gets spiritual for me. Somehow the knowledge of the journey gets passed not from one monarch to another but through an evolution of existences. There is a ONENESS…from the butterfly to the egg to the caterpillar to the chrysalis to the butterfly. Five monarchs, five times in an egg, five caterpillars, and five times in chrysalis: the journey just continues. Is it really five different monarchs making the trip or the spirit of one monarch just trying on new outfits along the way?
And then I think about the swarms of monarchs making the trip…this knowledge…this “TRUTH” is within each of them. I don’t know how they share it or how they hear it, but they all just KNOW. Could the swarm of butterflies really be part of a greater being…all butterflies are truly one?
What is this monarch navigation system? How quiet the mind of a monarch must be to hear this mystical guide!
I was on the phone for an hour Saturday with somebody I dearly love. It’s funny because I NEVER talk on the phone…nonetheless for an hour. We talked about how we both suffer from relentless voices in our heads…there is never quiet…never space. The voices drive us and push us in directions we think we SHOULD go. We hear the directions society, our parents, our bosses, our lovers believe we should go. They chatter, like multiple GPS guidance systems talking at once, constantly recalculating new routes.
I believe that like the monarchs, we don’t need a GPS. I think we are all born with monarch navigation systems that gently whisper the directions. But the voice is gentle, never forceful. So, I must learn to quiet my mind to truly hear. I know there is a whisper for me…I can feel the loving call. I just have to be quiet enough to hear.
Davis, D. (2005, September). Meet Canadian Naturalist. Retrieved from Journey North: https://journeynorth.org/tm/monarch/DavisDonBio.html
Main, D. (2013, August 13). Monarch butterflies may take five generations to migrate to US . Retrieved from NBC News: https://www.nbcnews.com/sciencemain/monarch-butterflies-may-take-five-generations-migrate-us-6C10910055
The Science of monarchs. (n.d.). Retrieved from Chautauqua Bird Tree and Garden Club: https://www.chautauquabtg.org/life-cycle-anatomy/
One thought on “Butterfly Navigation Systems”
Reading this, I thought of the migration headed northward from Central America and how it too is made up of many generations. Sadly, those migrants are as endangered as Monarchs. Safe landings for all travelers.