The Monarch butterfly is one of the most beautiful butterflies in the natural world. It lives in various places, but it is particularly common in North America. During the summer, the Monarch butterfly can be found as far north as Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada. The butterfly flies a distance of 5,000 kilometers to spend the winter in a 250 acres area of Mexico. Millions of butterflies spend the winter there, often in the same tree in which their ancestors lived.
A beautiful butterfly on a beautiful flower. The Monarch butterfly
During October, the butterflies fly south. In spring, they lay eggs. Larvae hatch from the eggs and la- ter become pupae. The contents of the pupae break down into a kind of soup, which develops into a but- terfly with a body and wings. The first generation is born in March – April and then the journey north begins.
The first stop is in Texas, the butterflies lay eggs that hatch into the first generation. The larval and pupal stages take place and then new butterflies continue the journey north. This process repeats so that three generations are born between August and Sep- tember. The first three generations live 2-6 weeks. The fourth generation lives in the northern USA or Canada and flies back to Mexico. This generation lives 7-8 months and enters a pause in the reproductive cycle so that it does not lay eggs until the following spring. The butterflies rest in a tree with thousands of others all winter long. While several generations emerge along the route northwards, only a single generation flies the stretch southward to Mexico for over-wintering.
In order to be able to navigate correctly, the Monarch butterfly must have a solar compass, which enables it to measure longitude and latitude. This presumes an internal clock that is regulated by the difference between day and night. The insect uses the earth’s magnetism as a geomagnetic compass. The navigational abilities of the Monarch butterfly are well developed. Individuals released 1,500 km off course have always found their way back to their exact destination in Mexico.
Jules Poirier is an engineer whose work has included developing equipment for the Apollo moon landing. He has studied the life of the Monarch butterfly in detail and compared its navigational abilities with those a pilot would need to make the same journey from America to Mexico. A pilot would need a clock that showed Greenwich Mean Time, a sextant, a magnetic compass, information about the earth’s magnetism, and astronomical tables that give the position of the sun at every point along the journey. It is impossible to understand how the Monarch butterfly fits all that information into a brain the size of a pinhead.
The butterfly also has a kind of inbuilt GPS receiver. The butterflies that travel south in autumn have never been to Mexico, and it is incomprehensible how they have obtained information about the route of their journey, never mind how they know the precise nature of their destination. It is also impossible to understand where the Monarch butterfly gets its information about the sun’s position at different places at different times of the year, and how it knows the direction of the Earth’s magnetism at different latitudes and longitudes, yet it needs this information to be able to navigate. We also do not know how all this information is passed to the next generation.
Jules Poirier concluded that the Monarch’s navigational abilities could not be put down to coincidence, but that they must have been programmed. All the information that determines the life of the Monarch butterfly resides in its DNA. The DNA of the butterflies that overwinter in Mexico must contain the information that determines the migratory route of future generations, and this is totally impossible to understand if we discount an intelligent cause in the natural world. The butterfly shows traits that are beyond our ability to un- derstand or explain, and that which does not have a natural cause must have an intelligent one.