Minnesota's state butterfly is heading south for the winter.

Each fall, millions of monarch butterflies leave their summer breeding grounds in the northeastern U.S. and Canada and travel upwards of 3,000 miles to reach overwintering grounds in southwestern Mexico.

According to the office of the Secretary of State in Minnesota, approximately four generations of monarchs are born in Minnesota every summer and live about four week. That is, all except the last generation of the summer who make the long trek down to Mexico where they live for 6 months. We thought dog years were intense, imagine butterfly years.

I'm part of the Minnesota Naturalists group on Facebook and someone posted a gallery of photos of the monarch migration starting to happen just south of St. Cloud in Paynesville. At first glance, you look at the photo of the tree and thing the leaves are already turning colors, but it's actually covered in the bright orange wings of Monarch butterflies.

The fact that these delicate little creatures (that weigh less than 1 ounce) can fly over 3,000 miles to spend the winter in Mexico never ceases to amaze me. They are truly resilient and remarkable creatures. The MN DNR gave some tips to aid them on their journey:

Researchers believe as many as 50 million monarchs migrate south each fall. To help the population, homeowners should plant flowering plants rather than grass or shrubs. Milkwed varieties are favorites of the insects.

Have a safe trip Minnesota Monarchs, we look forward to seeing your future generations next spring.

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