While visiting my sister’s family in St. Paul last month, I went the Minnesota Zoo. The Aveda Butterfly Garden was open at the time, located at the end of the Tropics Trail, and it featured more than 40 different species of butterflies and moths.
I learned a secret about butterfly gardens. They have the power to transform raucous children into patient, mild-mannered angels. Why? Because if you remain perfectly still, there’s a small chance a butterfly will flitter upon your shoulder, hair or an outstretched hand.
As a kid, I remember being transfixed by cottonwood trees filled with Monarch butterflies and often wondered about the great migration they would make to Mexico. The zoo’s website has some FAQs about butterflies that explain part of that journey:
The Monarch flying in your garden does make it to Mexico, but this individual butterfly does not return from Mexico to Minnesota. In July, the monarch begins the 3,000 to 4,000 miles trip to warmer weather. They have been known to fly 100 miles a day and reach speeds up to 30 m.p.h. The average flight speed is 10 m.p.h. In February the monarch begins the trip north. The females stop to lay eggs on milkweed plants along the way and then die. This first generation lives 6 to 9 months. The second and third generations live 6 weeks and the fourth generation returns to Minnesota. They produce the 5th generation, which makes the trip to Mexico.
The Aveda Butterfly Garden was only open from June 15 – September 2 this year. But, if you live in Minnesota or will be traveling through next summer, be sure to check the Minnesota Zoo website to see if it will be returning. It’s worth the trip!