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Witness the miracle of the Monarchs

If one bird or bison is beautiful, think how breath-taking millions could be. All who witnessed the great buffalo stampedes probably never imagined it would end – but it did, and quickly. Millions of bison were slaughtered to near-extinction in less than a century by people like “Buffalo” Bill Cody, who single-handedly shot over 4,000 in just two years.

Now, another miraculous migration is threatened as beleaguered monarch butterfly numbers decline. Watch this video to witness the miracle:

The monarch’s livelihood is threatened by rapid habitat loss and degradation in both their Mexican wintering grounds and in the U.S. Midwest where they reproduce – and where the milkweed plants they depend on rapidly disappear. It will take a dedicated effort on both sides of the border to keep this miracle alive for future generations to witness.

Monarchs returning to the U.S. from their Mexican wintering grounds seek out milkweed plants in the Midwest on which to lay their eggs. Milkweed is a vital link in the life-cycle of all monarchs – it’s the only thing larvae can eat. The second generation hatches, consumes milkweed leaves and grows for two weeks – more than 2,000 times larger – then turns into a chrysalis. One week later, every cell transformed, the butterflies emerge to feed on nectar from milkweed and other wildflowers and continue the migration path of the previous generation, as will the next two generations.

By August, summer’s fourth and final generation hatches to become the amazing migrating butterflies that defy the odds and return to ancestral wintering grounds in Mexico. This stunning feat is celebrated each fall in early November as the holiday El Dio de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. How they make their way back to a place they’ve never been is one of the mysteries of monarchs.

Plant a tree – and help shelter upcoming generations – through our Gift That Gives More: Save Monarch Butterfly Habitat! 

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Lisa Powers writes and photographs for GreaterGood, is the proud dog-mama of Alaskan huskies, Ginger and Shiloh, and a self-proclaimed nature nerd. She recently moved back to her home state of Michigan after seven years on The Last Frontier, where she worked at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and wrestled birch bark off of firewood.