Lessons from Monarch Butterfly Migration

Lessons from Monarch Butterfly Migration

Every year, monarch butterflies migrate from as far north as Canada to as far south as Mexico to escape the cold winters. And in the spring, they head back north.*

However, what makes this migration unique isn’t just the migration itself but how many generations of monarch butterflies it takes to get there. Because the lifespan of the monarch butterfly is only a few weeks, it actually takes multiple generations to finally make it back to the north.**

The monarch butterfly migration looks different than the migration of other insects and is a mystery to many. Some of these journeys end up being as long as 3,000 miles.*** And yet, every year, monarch butterflies return south to the same place where their great-great-grandparents were the year before.

The monarch butterfly migration is fascinating for many reasons, and one thing that captivates my attention the most is how many generations it takes for this migration to happen.

I think about the journeys I’ve taken in my own life and how I look forward to arriving at the destination. The idea of traveling all of these miles, through multiple landscapes, terrains, and weather conditions should result in finally arriving at a destination…right?

Monarch butterflies see it differently.

The monarch butterfly migration is a reminder of what it means to pave the way. To carry on on a journey that you might not actually live to see the end of.

I think of the monarch butterflies in the middle of the migration. The ones who maybe never lived to see either Mexico or Canada, and yet, they are still a part of this path that many other butterflies have taken. They are still a part of the journey, even if only for a few weeks.


Oh how beautifully
your presence matters here
(even without knowing
what your impact will be
through the years).
You are a part
of the long
cyclical journey
flying south
flying north,
you have always
been a part
of how
we move forth.


What greater journey are we willing to be a part of, even if it’s only for a limited time? Even if it's someone else who lives to see the finish line?

*Nature on PBS
**It's Okay To Be Smart (YouTube)
*** @natgeo


  • Posted by Jhoanna on

    What wisdom we can learn from the monarch butterfly. Often it is not the destination but the journey that counts. Thank you for this inspiration, Morgan!

  • Posted by Dr. Cookie Schultz on

    As I prepare for retirement, my friends helped me clean out my office and pack up my memories. Two of the young workers who were assisting me commented on how much I was like one of the butterflies on a journey, showing them the path, laying the foundation, and trusting that someone behind me would continue the journey. It was delightful and made me feel so very happy instead of sad. Thank you for the beautiful story and amazing artwork.

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