Monarch Butterfly Takes Flight:

On Southwest Airlines



photo courtesy of Manos-Jones. / SA

The flight of the Monarch Butterfly is a well-known phenomenon that takes place twice each year. The migratory patterns of these beautiful creatures have been documented by scientists and film makers. In the spring the Monarch flies north from Mexico and Baja California all the way to the Northernmost United States and some into Canada. In late summer, usually starting off in August, the Monarchs take flight south. The Monarch is the only butterfly that follows the migratory patterns of birds.

Late emerging Monarchs often die in North America for several reasons. One is that their life span is only a few months so they will not live long enough to breed with others of their kind. The migration takes two or three generations of butterfly and they instinctively emerge from their cocoons knowing which way they should go, North or South, as if they are born with an internal clock and compass. Each year there are people who take in the Monarch that has missed his or her chance at the migration.

This year, in Albany, New York, a late bloomer of the Monarch variety did not emerge from the cocoon until October first. It was far to late to begin the flight and the creature would never have survived it alone. Luckily for this particular butterfly, a good Samaritan saw its strength and form and decided to help.

She contacted Southwest Airlines about flying the butterfly to San Antonio to join with its kind and continue the flight from there. The airline was quick to say yes, but that was just the beginning. It’s illegal to transport insects across state lines unless you have permission. Maraleen Manos-Jones wasn’t daunted by the task of getting permission. She knew who to call because she has been raising and releasing butterflies for years. For her it was a matter of responsibility. She said that most late emerging monarchs are weak, but this one was beautiful and strong. “She is a symbol of Hope.” Manos-Jones says.

In the wake of life changing storms both climactic and political that have rocked this nation in recent weeks; a single butterfly can capture headlines. Yes, this late bloomer is a symbol of hope.

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