<![CDATA[KidSenz - News for kids - APRIL ]]>Sat, 05 Dec 2015 13:51:11 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Decrease in the number of Monarch Butterflies ]]>Tue, 30 Apr 2013 18:09:08 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/april/decrease-in-the-number-of-monarch-butterfliesPicture
There was a drop seen in the number of migrating Monarch butterflies this season. These beautiful orange and black butterflies are considered the “king” of butterflies. Their lovely orange wings with black borders have black veins with white spots on them.

The annual migration of North America’s monarch butterfly is a unique and amazing phenomenon. It is the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration like birds do. The monarchs in Eastern North America have a second home in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico. The monarchs of the Western North America have theirs in California. Some of these butterflies fly as far as 3,000 miles to reach their winter home!

Why do they migrate?
They migrate because of two reasons. First, monarchs can’t survive in cold winters or in hot summers. The monarchs know that it is time to travel based on weather changes.

Second, Monarch butterflies migrate because their main food source plant (milkweed) does not grow in their winter sites. So the spring generation must fly back north to places where the plants are plentiful for them to feed on. Without milkweed, the *larva would not be able to develop into a butterfly.

Monarch’s sense of direction
Scientists believe they have found the secret to the butterfly’s internal sense of direction. The butterflies have an internal *solar compass, which guides them to the southwest in the autumn. They believe that the Monarch’s chart out their path with the help of the Earth’s gravitational pull and the position of the sun. Once their path is set, air currents help them travel these long distances.

Why are they reducing in number?
Scientists think this sudden reduction in number of monarchs has to do with a reduction in their favorite food. The Monarch butterflies and caterpillars like to feed on a special type of plant called “milkweeds”.  Unfortunately, the places that have these plants are reducing because people have been cutting them down and building homes. These places in California and Mexico should be protected and *conserved to promote the long-term survival of this special migrating species.

Interesting Fact: 
Did you know that monarch butterflies are poisonous? They won’t harm humans, but the chemicals from the milkweed plant that they eat when they are in the larvae stage builds up inside of them and gives them a poisonous defense against predators like frogs, birds, mice and lizards.

Gem Words
larva: The newly hatched, wingless, often wormlike form of many insects before metamorphosis
air currents: Moving air sometimes with considerable force from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure
conserve: To protect
solar compass: A navigational compass that uses the sun to establish direction