Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Wintering Monarchs, Fort Walton Beach, FL
Having been raised on the plains of central Kansas, I’m most familiar with the lingering flights of monarch butterflies as they migrate southward in the fall and return northward in summer. What I never knew is that they are the only butterfly to do this and their migration encompasses the life of three to four generations due to their short life span. But their most remarkable ability is to return to the same locations over a gap of several generations based on a time-compensated sun compass that depends upon a circadian clock that is based in their antennae.
It was quite a serendipitous moment to stumble upon nectar rich Gulf Coast blooms that had attracted hundreds of these wayfaring winged spirits. And to discover that they had at last returned to an ancient sanctuary from imminent harsh winter days even though they had come home to a place they had never been before. Some folks say that defines heaven.