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A hope note

It won’t be long ’til we’ll be seeing the first monarch butterflies of the year.
Having wintered in central Mexico, they are currently winding their way northward toward Canada, a 3,000-mile ‘ as the butterfly flies ‘ trip. Some of them fly hundreds of miles, non-stop, over the Gulf of Mexico.
But none of them will make it to Canada. They will lay eggs when they get to the southern United States. Then they will die. It will be up to their children and grandchildren to complete the next legs of the journey.
Then late this summer the Monarchs in Canada will begin their trip south toward the trees in Mexico from which their grandparents and great-grandparents launched the expedition months ago. Some of them will return to the very same tree where great-great-great-grandmother began the round-trip.
Is there a more gorgeous creature in all of nature? Sometimes scores of Monarchs take a short break on their odyssey to enjoy the nectar of my butterfly bushes and pose for my camera. I’ve noticed that the birds leave them alone. Evidently some chemical that the butterflies ingest as they feast on milkweed renders them nasty to the birds’ sense of smell or taste.
How do the Monarchs navigate? Scientists think a combination of 250 million pairs of DNA in their genome, plus a biochemical protein process, plus reading the position of the sun, accurately guides the less-than-one-ounce creatures on their way.
We humans marvel at our satellites and the Global Positioning Systems we have built and congratulate ourselves on what big-brained geniuses we are. And we joke that someone has a brain the size of an insect’s.

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