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NATURE - Monarch Butterflies: Meet the Methuselah Generation

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

If you don't know the difference between breeding monarchs and migrating monarchs, or the Methuselah Generation, this latter term is in reference to the monarch butterflies who make the grand migration south from Canada, travelling over 3000 miles to their winter-home in very specific Oyamel (Fir) forests. Not only do these monarchs live much longer than their parents and grandparents, they are larger and have a wider wing-span. Unlike breeding monarchs, who emerge from their chrysalis fully mature and have a short life span of 2-6 weeks, the methuselah generation is born in the north, in mid-August, and though they are full grown, their reproductive system is not mature. The scientific term for this is diapause, which means they will not mature until the spring, before departing Mexico. As migrating monarchs, the methuselah generation can sometimes live for as long as 8 months.

We are so blessed to work with Dr. Pablo Jaramillo Lopez of Ecuador, and Trecia E. Neal of Atlanta Georgia, as these two fascinating scientists offer complimentary perspectives on the endangered monarch migration. For those of you who have been in attendance for Dr. Jaramillo's "Hope for the Monarchs" lecture in Morelia or Patzcuaro, I also cannot say enough about Trecia E. Neal's lecture, entitled "Invite a Monarch for Lunch," which we will host again next February 2024 in Jungapeo, Michoacan. This lecture delves into the biology of the Monarch, the metamorphosis process, and guests have a chance to learn about the Methuselah generation, and what kinds of plants are important to feature in your garden, depending on where you live, to assist the migration. The migration is what remains of crucial importance, as it isn't the monarch butterfly itself, that is endangered, but the migration of monarchs that has been in rapid decline due to pesticides, irresponsible farming practices and climate change.

We are currently working out the details of our 2024 Monarch Butterfly experiences with Dr. Jaramillo Lopez and Trecia E. Neal. Our Sacred Migration experience with Trecia E. Neal is scheduled for February 14-20, 2024, in congruence with our Birds of the Maya Empire exploration in Chiapas, so if you are a science enthusiast and would like to attend both tours with Trecia, please contact us for more information. Hope for the Monarchs with Dr. Pablo Jaramillo will be scheduled soon, with potential for more than one tour departing from locations such as Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende, or Lake Chapala. If you live in Mexico, and want to put together a group trip from your location, please contact us for more information!

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