Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies

I am totally captivated and awestruck by the migration and breeding of Monarch butterflies. If you're unfamiliar with their amazing story, be sure to tune in (or DVR it) on Tuesday night, when PBS airs The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies.

NOVA filmmakers have gone to extraordinary lengths to track and research the two-month, 2000-mile trek the Monarchs make each year. Until just a few decades ago, little was known about this phenomenon. There is still mystery as to just how the Monarchs manage to travel from their various summer habitats to the same exact location in the highlands of Mexico.

Be sure to check your local PBS listings for the exact time this may show in your area. For me, it begins at 8:00 p.m. EDT. If you miss it, you can view it online here, beginning January 28th.

Related stories on Our Little Acre:

Edited to add: Cameron, at Defining Your Home Garden, has posted about the documentary as well in her 1-26-09 post.


Anonymous said...

Kylee: No problems on this site tonight so I will keep at it and hope for the best. I will have to check out this special! I love your island choices and that first picture makes me long for a Caribbean vacation! I do love the romance of a willow, the fragrance of a rose and the architectural beauty of an amaryllis! Great choices.

Kylee Baumle said...

Layanee ~ I'm glad the site isn't giving you any problems. Maybe it won't from now on - keeping my fingers crossed!
I learned of the special through a newsletter I get via e-mail from Lots of good info there, too!

Unknown said...

I love butterflies. My daughter tries to catch them all the time and keeps wanting to have some for pets. We'll have to try to catch that show.

Kylee Baumle said...

Cinj ~ I love all butterflies, but the Monarch is special. Such a miracle in such a small package! I hope you're able to watch it!

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Thanks for the heads-up, Kylee. This is something I would be very interested in viewing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info about this fascinating subject. I will make sure to set my dvr to record it. :)

Diana said...

HiKylee - thanks for the tip -- I'm going to DVR it right now. Our whole family would enjoy that, as most of what I plant here in Central Texas is butterfly-friendly. We've seen some more around here lately (not monarchs) - Sulphurs and moths mostly -- since the weather has been pretty warm.

Kylee Baumle said...

Robin ~ I thought you would! ;-)

Racquel ~ I'm excited to watch it. What they do is incredible!

Diana ~ It will be a couple of months yet before they begin their trek northwards. It's fun to watch their progress as people report sightings.
It's good to hear that you're experiencing an increase in butterflies though. That means we're that much closer to spring!

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

We will definitly try to catch that one. Thanks for the tip.

Colleen Vanderlinden said...

I've got the DVR set for this one. I can't wait to watch it! My daughters just love them, so I'm sure they'll be watching at least part of it with me.

TYRA Hallsénius Lindhe said...

Hi Kylee, how extraordinary and beautiful. Thank you for sharing/ Tyra

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Yes, it is amazing how far they travel. I will look for this special on tv.

woodswoman said...

This looks like a great show to watch! I'm sure that the close call back in 2002 with the storm that killed off almost 75% of the breeding population of US and Canadian monarchs prompted a much needed research grant to get the documentary going. It's been a miracle this last summer to finally have monarch catapillars back in the garden. I try to always leave all the milkweed wherever it happens to be growing - even if it's right in the middle of the lettuce or bean patch. I figured after the species took such a hard hit, they need all the opportunities for habitat they can find....and lucky us!! We hosted 4 catapillars this summer! It was so great to take the kids out and watch them from day to day eat thru the milkweed and work their way over the garden row to another milkweed plant. Then we found the chrysallis's!! When I first moved to Minnesota, back in 1999, the prairie was so thick with monarchs that at times of the year you couldn't drive thru it at more than a crawl due to the clouds of monarchs flying up out of the grass - you didn't want to squash them! Then the storm hit, and we would be lucky to see three or four all summer long. It's been that way now til last summer.... Thanks for the heads up on the documentary.

Cathy S. said...

Hi Kylee,

Butterflies are one of my favorites,
If you like watch them hatch and
become butterflies grow some dill.
They are always in my garden, I
watch them from the time they are
caterpillars eating my dill, and
then come out of their coccoons.
By the way, my mother is Carolyn
from "Sweet Home and Garden Chicago"
Have you ever see a Hummingbird clear winged moth in your area?


Meems said...

Kylee, I'm going to go set the DVR now before I forget. I'm so fascinated with knowing which ones migrate and which ones hang out in Florida all year long (non-migrating). Thanks so much for the heads up.

Also loved your choices for the desert island plants. I noticed Jan over @ Thanksfor2day picked the weeping willow also. Very nice tree. What variety of Amaryllis is that in your photo??... it is quite unique. Remind me to dig up some of what I have growing here for you when you come.

You must be getting excited about your island getaway in a couple of weeks... it's sure to put you in the spirit of spring!
Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

Louise Hartwig said...

I have seen this, and I will watch it again. I have to speak to a group on the Monarchs. They are amazing and this will refresh me on the subject.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading an article about this in National Geographic many years ago. I find it amazing that these butterflies migrate like this. When I am crossing Lake Pontchartrain going to and from work in early fall, I will run into many monarchs that must be migrating to Mexico. Unfortunately, the cars make sure several don't make it.

Benjamin Vogt said...

I AM IN LOVE WITH MONARCHS!!! I became so enraaptured when they just showed up in my garden on my new milkweeds. This is all new to me, even though folks say it doesn't look it when they see pics. I love NOVA! I've used two episodes for info in my book I'm writing: fractals and origin of flowers. PBS and monarchs, it's like godiva and wine.

Shady Gardener said...

We have a meeting tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. I've never dvd'd off the tv. I may try it, though... but just in case it doesn't work, I'll hope to watch it Sunday night. I, too, think it's a miracle and would love to visit Mexico to see the Monarch-laden trees!! :-)

F Cameron said...

I posted about the same thing tonight. I'm sorry that I didn't see your post until now, or I would have linked back.

The more gardeners who watch, the better for the Monarchs.


Kylee Baumle said...

Debbie ~ Enjoy it!

Colleen ~ Oh part of the fun for you in watching this with your girls will be seeing your girls so excited about it!

Tyra ~ Are you able to view our PBS stations or programs there? If not, you can view it online starting tomorrow. :-)

Lisa ~

woodswoman ~ Monarchs have been plentiful here for the last few summers. I never really paid attention much before that, unfortunately. We grow several different Asclepias varieties and every one of them plays host to Monarch cats each summer.

Cathy ~ Yes, we grow dill and the Swallowtail caterpillars LOVE it. A couple of summers ago, they stripped it bare!
Yes, we've seen the Clearwing Hummingbird Moths a lot in our gardens. They love the Monarda. We had a lot of them this summer. You could go into the garden and see five or six at one time. They make me smile. :-)

Meems ~ You bet I'm getting excited to be down there! And I would be THRILLED to be the recipient of some of your amaryllises! Thank you!

The amaryllis in the Desert Island post is 'La Paz,' a Cybister type. That was taken a few years ago, but they are starting to put up scapes now.

I wasn't aware that any of the Monarchs stayed in Florida all winter. That's awesome! It might be those that are later in coming out in the fall up here, like Little Miss Monarch. ;-)

Mom ~ Perfect refresher course, isn't it? :-) You'll do great with your talk, because you're as passionate about the Monarchs as I am.

Jan ~ We've had them spend the night in trees here while on their way to Mexico in the fall. It's an amazing sight. And yes, unfortunately, many don't make it there for various reasons.

Ben ~ Try DeBrands and wine. Much better! I know you're passionate about Monarchs, as I am. I loved your posts about them and that passion shone through, bright and clear! Their whole life process is just an out-and-out miracle.

Shady ~ The PBS site says you can view it online starting tomorrow, too, in case you miss it!

Cameron ~ But you DID link back! ;-) Yes, I wish everyone's garden was a certified Monarch Waystation like yours and mine are. It's not that difficult to qualify and it's so helpful to the Monarchs!

Unknown said...

The NOVA season opener was typical NOVA - excellent. The patience of the photographers to get the shots they do must be amazing.
The most interesting part of this odyssey is that it happens only to 4th generation butterflies. How amazing. I am thinking of making this a life goal, to visit the mountains of Mexico during the first weeks of November to see them in their winter habitat. Provided we stupid humans do not cut down all the trees in the preserves.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

I was sad that I read this after the show had aired, but then ran across it last night, and watched it as I blogged. What amazing creatures the Monarchs are. I loved watching the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly.

Kylee Baumle said...

Rick ~ If that forest isn't preserved, I'm going to be so incensed.
I'm with you - just how does that fourth generation know that they are the ones to have to make that incredible trip? What is it biologically that is different than the three generations before them?
If I ever got to see those Monarchs arriving in Mexico, I think I would just cry from the sheer joy of it.

Sue ~ They ARE so amazing! I never get tired of watching everything they do. I'm glad you got to see it!

MyMaracas said...

I caught the last half of that show, and you're right. It's well worth watching. The photography is awesome, and story is amazing.

I worried, once people found out where the monarchs go, that they would be hunted for their wings or disturbed enough to disrupt their cycle. So far, they seem to be OK. Thank goodness.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I missed the show, but this site tracks monarch migration north. Have you ever been to Point Pelee in Ontario to bid them farewell in fall? It's awesome!

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