Monarch Butterfly Red Zinnia 2050px

They are one of the most beloved insects in the world. Every spring pairs of vivid orange and black wings can be seen fluttering about in gardens and parks everywhere, darting from flower to flower as if happily announcing that warmer days are just ahead. However, what you might not realize is how far that little monarch butterfly has traveled on its way to your backyard.

Starting in early fall, as summer gives way to cooler days, these mini snowbirds flee the cold temperatures of their northern U.S. and Canada homelands for the much warmer climates of Southern California and Mexico. Scientist still aren’t sure exactly how these tiny powerhouses do it. Flying as many as 50 miles a day over several months, they complete an unbelievable journey of between one and three thousand miles to arrive at their winter retreat.

Once there they spend their time resting, breeding and waiting. Before too long, the approaching spring beckons the next generation of butterflies to begin the long trip north and the whole cycle begins again.

This spring, as you’re busy getting your garden back in shape, keep your eyes opened. You just might be lucky enough to discover a few of these determined travelers enjoying a well-deserved rest among your buds and blooms.