Education

Exploring the Wonder of the Monarch Butterfly

Nature holds in store countless amazing phenomena. Simply watching a tiny seed sprout and grow into a healthy plant bearing flowers or vegetables is incredible. Seeing leaves on trees evolve from bold green in the summer to brilliant yellows, reds, and oranges in the fall can be mesmerizing. Of course, plants are only a small part of the bigger picture. Animals and insects are fascinating as well. One of the most stunning is the monarch butterfly. While observing them in nature is a miraculous experience, a monarch coloring page can bring the fascination indoors even on a cold winter day.

Taking a Closer Look at the Monarch

Monarch butterflies are native to North America. Though they were once found in South America as well, many reports say they’re no longer common on the continent. These beautiful creatures are known for their vibrant orange, black, and white coloring as well as their fairly large size in comparison to other butterfly species. In fact, they can grow to be up to four inches wide with their wings spread. While their coloring and size make them easy to spot and distinguish from other species, those are only a couple of their most miraculous aspects.

An Incredible Transformation

Butterflies begin their lives as tiny eggs. After hatching, they grow into caterpillars. Those crawling creatures with six legs and another ten false legs look nothing like their majestic adult counterparts. Before long, though, they undergo a significant transformation.

They create a cosy chrysalis for themselves and snuggle into it for one to two weeks. This chrysalis is made of a tough outer skin to protect the caterpillar during its transformation. When the chrysalis breaks open, the marvellous, colorful butterflies that are so well known around the world emerge. Fittingly enough, the monarch’s scientific name is Danaus plexippus, which translates to sleepy transformation. 

On the Move

Quite a few insects look for greener pastures when winter rolls around. Some burrow under leaves or lay their eggs underground before cold temperatures set in. Others move into people’s homes and try to stay out of sight until warm weather returns. Monarchs take a very different approach. They’re the only butterfly species known to take part in a two-way migration the same way birds do.

Each winter, monarchs travel to Mexico for its warmer, more tolerable climate. They fly anywhere from 1,200 to 3,000 miles to get to their comfortable vacation homes. When they get there, they roost in oyamel firs by the thousands, creating a wondrous thicket of brilliant color. Sometimes, their clusters get so heavy, they cause the tree branches to break. Once spring takes hold in North America, they fly back home.

Adding a New Spin to the Mix

Although monarchs’ wings are orange and black, you and your children can add any hues you like when you print your own coloring pages. They can be filled in with crayons, colored pencils, magic markers, watercolors, oil paints, or any other media. While adult monarchs only live about five weeks in nature, they take on an enduring quality on paper. Your vibrant pictures will last indefinitely, giving monarchs as well as your skill and creativity an entirely new life.

 

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