City Cast

Urban Almanac: Monarch Butterflies

Rachel Monahan
Posted on May 25   |   Updated on June 6
butterflies under trees

Caption: A flutter of butterflies flapping through the forest. (Sylvain Cordier/Getty Images)

Monarch butterflies are not officially an endangered species, but shocking declines in their populations nationwide have led to a massive effort to save the butterfly and its habitat.

They’re easily the most recognizable butterfly to most of us, but here are some noteworthy facts about the species:

  • A group of monarchs is called a flutter.
  • A monarch butterfly weighs about the same as a blade of grass or postage stamp.
  • They flap their wings 300 times a minute.
  • Some flutters of monarchs flap 3,000 miles over the course of months to migrate south for the winter.
  • Western monarch butterflies winter in southern California, while East Coast monarchs head to Mexico.
  • Butterflies can taste and smell through receptors in their antennae and their legs.

The world is clearly better off for having a diversity of species to marvel at, but butterflies also help us as pollinators — by helping plants reproduce.

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