By Trish Minogue Collins
If you’ve spent any time at all outside lately, there’s a good chance you have been distracted by a bright flash of orange as a monarch butterfly fluttered by. The monarch butterfly migration is on! For several years now, we’ve been seeing very few monarch butterflies. People across America have been raising awareness of the fact that monarchs lay their eggs only on the milkweed plant, and that we need to restore and protect this roadside plant if we are to continue to see this beautiful creature in our world. I like to think that these efforts have made a difference, but whatever the reason, there is no doubt that we are seeing an explosion of Monarch butterflies migrating along our south shore beaches right now.
Monarchs are not only beautiful, but they are unique and amazing creatures. The monarchs we are seeing now with be traveling all the way to the Oyamel fir trees in the mountains of Mexico. They are the only insects known to make such a migration. The same Monarchs that migrate south will not return here. The ones we see in the spring will be several generations down the line from these. Milkweed is needed all along the migration route to ensure that we get the pleasure of seeing them next year.
This time of year, you may have noticed monarchs particularly enjoying the goldenrod along our beaches during the day. Butterflies don’t fly at night, but instead will gather together to keep warm, most often in pine trees near their food source. Since many members of the Long Island Sun Chasers are also active on our beaches when the sun is setting and rising, they have been able to capture the monarchs gathering together in the evening, then warming their wings in the morning sun before taking flight once again.
A big thank you to the Long Island Sun Chaser members who shared their images for this piece. If you are interested in purchasing any, we will gladly put you in touch with the photographer.
More images and a video on page 2!