With a recognizable pattern on its delicate wings, the monarch butterfly is one of the most fascinating species on the world. During the monarch butterfly’s life cycle, a huge migration occurs each winter, bringing millions of monarch butterflies to Mexico and California. Some may unfortunately not make it all the way, but those who do will be able to relax and rejuvenate in the warm sun before returning home in the spring.
“How many butterflies does it take to create a noise in the woods?” said nature broadcaster Phil Torres of The Jungle Diaries. Several million, to be exact. A single delicate butterfly is hardly heard, yet millions of them flapping their wings produce a wonderful symphony. In a Mexican forest, he got film of a swarm of butterflies that congregated in bunches on trees and covered entire branches and foliage.
As the sun warms the insects, they all take to the air at the same time. Torres refers to this collective action as a “waterfall,” since their wings flap collectively to imitate the calming sound of falling water.
The monarch butterfly is an endangered species, with a population that is down 26% from last year’s estimate. Pesticides, climate change, urban development, and illegal logging of the woods where monarch butterflies migrate for the winter are all threats to monarch butterflies. Milkweed is the only food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars, but the plant has been decimated by increasing pesticide spraying and other chemicals that are poisonous to the young caterpillars. Plant native milkweed and wildflowers, which are their preferred habitat, to help safeguard this wonderful insect.
Are you prepared to hear “one of the rarest sounds on the planet”? Check out Torres’ YouTube account for more nature-inspired imagery after watching the video below.
As these monarch butterflies take flight, keep an eye on them (and listen carefully).