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March of the Monarch

The City of Madison's first public mural, “March of the Monarch,” is located at the Avenue at 92 Shorter Street, just outside of Honest Coffee Roasters. Created by local artist Ann Moeller, it pays homage to the monarch butterfly—Alabama’s state insect and a symbol of transformation and community, which also represents Madison’s own growth and transformation.

 

The March of the Monarch also aims to raise awareness about the monarch's migration journey, with Madison being a part of this important path. 

Generously Funded by:

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The Story of the Monarch Butterfly

Information provided by 
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While the monarch butterfly is not native to Alabama, our state is an important part of its migration path. For that reason, the monarch butterfly is the state insect of Alabama. 

Like all butterflies, the monarch goes through a process called metamorphosis as it grows. This means it has stages of change throughout its lifecycle. The first stage is the egg. The eggs are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. After about a week in the egg, a tiny little caterpillar (larva) eats its way out of the egg. 

The caterpillar will eat, grow, crawl around and shed its skin for about two weeks and when it’s ready, it will find a perfect place to put a small silk button, hang upside down and shed its skin one last time. The caterpillar transforms into a chrysalis, also known as the butterfly’s pupal stage. The monarch has a beautiful jade green chrysalis that will change to show the black, orange and white colors of the adult butterfly over the next few weeks. When it has finally fully developed, it emerges from its chrysalis and lives the last of its life as an adult butterfly.  

Their focus as butterflies is to eat and lay eggs for the next generation to take their place. 

 

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While the average monarch lives 6-8 weeks going through the various stages, there is a special group of monarchs that are wonderfully different! Monarchs are one of the few butterflies that will migrate in both the spring and the fall. In the fall a single generation of monarchs will make a journey from the upper United States to Mexico, a journey of up to 3,000 miles! 

 

The butterflies fly the entire way stopping only to rest and eat. Their genetics change to make them bigger and have a lower metabolism so they can fly further with fewer stops. They also go into diapause, meaning they do not lay eggs during their journey. Some will go to California or Florida, but most will go spend the winter in a group of Oyamel fir trees in Mexico. If you want to learn more about this migration, Monarch Watch is a wonderful organization that studies this process and allows you to track the butterflies’ progress.  

 

This Fall migration group will live up to nine months to overwinter and then begin the migration back north in the spring. During the spring migration they will start to lay eggs and make way for the new generation. Alabama is part of the monarch migration path during both times of the year, so we tend to see them in various parts of the state in April/May and late September/October. Keep an eye out and see if you can find some!

 

You may be asking yourself how you can attract monarchs to your yard. This is easier done than you might realize. The key plant to include in your yards is milkweed. Check for a native variety to your area as they will be the easiest to grow and maintain. Milkweed is a host plant for monarchs. This means, they will lay their eggs on it and their caterpillars will eat from it. The more milkweed you have, the more likely you will be to attract them! 

 

Any other nectar plants can go with milkweed. Lantana, phlox, and butterfly weed are great choices.  Always check for native plants in your area. The more native plants you have the more insects will be supported, not just monarchs. A great way to learn how to attract butterflies and other pollinators to your yard is to visit your local botanical gardens. Public gardens are a great source of information and resources for your own landscape. 

RESOURCES:

Blooming Garden Alabama Native Plant Toolkit.

Monarch Watch

North Alabama Mural Trail

Address

92 Shorter Street

Madison, AL 35758 

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