Monarch butterflies are the world travelers of the insect world. These colorful creatures embark on an annual migration of more than 2,000 miles, traveling from the Great Lakes all the way to the Gulf of Mexico and back again. During its migration, each butterfly relies on the huge volume of food it ate when it was a caterpillar for fuel.
Many people do not realize that over a million Monarchs also make a western migration. Monarchs west of the continental divide overwinter along the coast of California and breed on milkweed as far north as Washington and British Columbia.
The smallest butterfly is almost invisible to the naked eye at barely 1/8 of an inch long. The largest butterfly is the size of a dinner plate, as large as 12 inches. There are approximately 20,000 species of butterflies in the world. About 725 species have occurred in North American north of Mexico, with about 575 of these occurring regularly in the lower 48 states of the United States