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Monarch butterflies in Kansas

Monarch butterflyScientific Name: Danaus plexippus

The large, colorful butterflies known as monarchs are the only butterflies known to have a two-way migration. They begin their migration from the North by late August, depending upon weather patterns. Traveling 10-30 miles an hour, they can cover up to 80 miles in a day. They arrive in Kansas in mid-late September. Here in the central Kansas wetlands they find refuge feeding on aster, goldenrod, and wildflowers.

Although monarchs live nine months longer than other butterflies, they have just enough time on their return journey to fly the several hundred miles required before laying their eggs and dying. The next two generations of monarchs fly farther north and the fourth generation starts the migration cycle again.

Milkweed is a necessary food source for monarchs. It contains a poison they store in their bodies to make them poisonous and protect against many predators.

Several Kansas organizations conduct monarch watch programs, where volunteers can capture, tag, and release monarchs as they make their migration each fall.

Wildflower areas are good places to look for monarchs during the day. In the evening they look for cool, damp places that are sheltered.

Entry: Monarch butterflies in Kansas

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2016

Date Modified: June 2016

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.