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Adopt a Monarch Butterfly

Brilliant orange and black monarchs are among the most easily recognizable of the butterfly species which call the Americas home. Their migration takes them as far north as Canada and, during the winter months, as far south as Mexico City. A single monarch can travel hundreds to thousands of miles!

Monarchs are truly spectacular migrants, because the butterflies know the correct direction to migrate even though they have never made the journey before. They follow an internal "compass" that points them in the right direction each spring and fall. The monarch migration is one of the greatest natural phenomena in the insect world.

Monarchs, like all butterflies, change their diet as they develop. During the caterpillar stage, they live exclusively on milkweed plants. Milkweeds contain toxins that are harmless to the monarch but poisonous to its predators. Monarch caterpillars feed on all the different parts of milkweed plants and store up the toxins in their body. The toxins remain in their system even after metamorphosis, thereby making adult monarchs poisonous as well. Adult monarchs feed on nectar from a wide range of flowers, including milkweeds.

Monarch populations have plummeted in recent years by as much as 90 percent. Overuse of pesticides in agricultural and urban landscapes has eradicated the milkweed host plants their caterpillars feed upon as well as the nectar plants used by adult butterflies, and the forests monarchs use as wintering grounds are threatened by logging. Help NWF in its efforts to protect and recover the wild places that sustain wildlife. Adopt a monarch butterfly today!

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