Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve at the Natural Bridges, Santa Cruz

I have read about the butterfly migration in Nabokov’s ‘The Gift’. I never imagined I would ever witness such a migration myself, until I visited a place which is in fact a winter home of the majestic Monarch Butterfly: Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve at the Natural Bridges, Santa Cruz.

Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve

The Monarchs come here in late fall from the valleys west of the Rocky Mountains, and leave Santa Cruz at the end of the winter. It’s hard to imagine, but this relatively small piece of land becomes home to 100.000 – 150.000 butterflies. Living in the eucalyptus trees, Monarchs feed on the nectar of the milkweed flowers and lay their eggs on the milkweed’s toxic leaves. The Monarch caterpillars eat these leaves, thereby becoming toxic itself, effectively erasing itself from the menu of any potential predator.

Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve

An even more curious metamorphosis follows a while later: the toxic caterpillar morphs into a toxic butterfly, perfectly immune to its potential predators. This explains the bright colours of the Monarch butterfly, nature’s health-hazard warning sign: ‘Eat me only if suicidal,’ — something I still remember from my biology classes long ago.

1 Response

  1. June 26, 2017

    […] migration. Mr. Skorobogatov gave me permission to use his photograph for my blog. Please click here to visit his website. He has such beautiful photography and is an accomplished author as […]

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