Published on February 5th, 2017 | by Michelle Roper-Shaw0
Monarch Butterfly Day
We may still be in the depths of Winter, but today we celebrate the Monarch Butterfly. With vibrantly coloured gold, red, yellow and orange wings, it is the largest butterfly species we see in the British Isles.
Yet, the Monarch Butterfly is seriously in decline and is now one of Britain’s rarest migrants. Because the butterfly larva feeds on Milkweed, a species not native to the British Isles, it does not tend to breed here.
The most recent large migration was over 35 years ago in 1981 when there were 135 sightings. A Monarch butterfly flew from a butterfly farm and was seen on milkweed in Kew Gardens. Eggs were collected and reared indoors with the first adult emerging after a month.
Today, any sightings tend to be in the vicinity of south and west England and Ireland. Cornwall and the Scilly Isles are particular hot spots.
Monarch Butterfly Migration and Decline
In North America, migrations of Monarch butterflies are one of nature’s most magnificent phenomenon. Adult butterflies migrate from Canada in the north to Mexico, the west coast of California and Florida. This migration can be tracked from north and east to south and west. Each way of the migration takes four generations of butterflies to complete.
However, conservation groups in the US believe the Monarch butterfly should now be treated as an endangered species. They estimate that numbers have declined by as much as 90%. To help boost numbers in the Mid-West, people today are being encouraged to plant milkweed seeds which are being supplied free of charge by conservation groups.
Celebrating Beautiful Butterflies
If you are a fan of butterflies, you will love the stunning Butterflies Stamp Cards. Supplied in a pack of 10 beautifully illustrated cards by Richard Lewington, the butterflies featured are:
- Marbled White
- Red Admiral
- Marsh Fritillary
- Orange Tip
- Purple Emperor
- Chalkhill Blue
- Small Copper