I'm about to tell you one of the most fascinating animal facts I've heard in a long time. And it's about the Monarch Butterfly.
Every year, all Monarch Butterflies migrate south for the winter. They do this for 2 reasons: they can't survive the cold weather in the northern climates, and their larval foot plants that they eat don't grow in the winter. So they fly south, to these locations (Mexico, S. California, and S. Florida):
Obviously butterflies aren't the only animal to fly south for the winter. So no big deal, right? Well - this is where their migration becomes unique and fascinating:
Every year, the Monarch migration to each location is 2,500 miles away. And every year the butterflies return to the same exact tree - again - 2,500 miles away. However, by the time that they reach that same tree, it is no longer the same butterfly that is doing the migration from the prior year. By the time the next year's migration occurs, the migrating butterfly is four generations younger than the last year's migrating butterfly!!!
Think about that. In one year, the Monarch goes through four generations of butterflies. And the new butterflies are migrating to the exact same tree 2,500 miles away that their great-great grandparents migrated to. Exact same tree. This is one of nature's most fascinating animal facts - and mysteries!
By the way! The Living Planet Aquarium in Salt Lake City, Utah now has an interactive butterfly exhibit! My kids loved it!