Monarch Butterfly


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Note: These Challenge Questions coincide with the Spring 2000 Reports

From: Allison Bailey (
Date: Fri May 19 2000 - 09:49:48 EDT


Our classes spent six afternoons together collaborating on this story.
We started by brainstorming facts about different environments a
migrating monarch might encounter. Then the children broke into groups.
Each group worked on a different part of the story. After that, the
teachers copied the story using a word processing program. The story was
displayed on the presentation system connected to the teacher
workstation, and the whole group worked on giving suggestions for
revision and editing. Now that our story is finished, we will be
breaking into groups again to illustrate it and make it into a book.

We hope you like it!

Melanie?s Travels
By Miss Bailey?s 2nd/3rd Grade Class
and Mr. Daugherty?s 3rd/4th Grade Class
Citrus Elementary School
Vero Beach, FL

 Melanie slowly slid out of her chrysalis last fall, way up north in
Minnesota. She dried her wings in the sun, then sat on a milkweed leaf
for a while. Occasionally she fluttered around a little to test her
wings. After about a day, Melanie flew off to look for nectar. She
noticed each day getting shorter and shorter. It was also getting
chilly. Melanie knew it was time to start migrating towards her winter
home in Mexico. She joined thousands of other monarch butterflies, and
they all began their journey south.

Melanie traveled through the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. She
recognized a car, but she didn?t realize that it was moving. Fast!
Suddenly, Melanie noticed the car coming dangerously close. She almost
got splattered on the windshield! She zoomed up as high as she could and
landed on the roof of a tall building. While Melanie was resting on the
roof, she spotted a butterfly garden on a porch. She landed on a yellow
daisy growing in a pot, and sipped the nectar slowly with her proboscis.
When Melanie was full, she traveled on.

Melanie flew over a small farm in Iowa. She discovered some horses
eating hay. She fluttered between their feet, being careful that she
didn?t get stepped on. Then she gazed at some people riding on tractors.
They were gathering corn in the field. She glided down to get a better
look. When she got closer, she noticed some daisies growing between the
corn. Melanie fluttered down to the daisies to sip nectar. She didn?t
realize the wheels of the tractor were coming toward her until the corn
behind her started to get scooped up. Melanie retreated quickly! She
flapped her wings and raced over a brown, wooden fence and away from the

In Missouri, Melanie sighted a field full of sunflowers. It was so windy
that she had to struggle to get to a flower and rest on it. Then the
clouds became dark, and Melanie headed to a nearby tree. After all,
monarchs can?t fly if it gets too cold. If they fall to the ground
monarchs become easy prey for predators. She would be safe in the
shelter of the tree. Melanie had to stay there for a couple of hours.
Then she left the tree. A blue jay swooped down and tried to eat
Melanie. Just as it was about to attack, the jay remembered that the
last monarch he ate made him very sick. Monarch larvae eat milkweeds,
which build up cardenolides in their system making them poisonous to
most vertebrates. Melanie did not end up as lunch, after all.

Later, Melanie sighted a deer while she glided over the woods in
Arkansas. She hovered over to his antlers and sat there for a few
minutes. Then, Melanie noticed hawks flying through the sky. She joined
them flying around in circles for a while. While Melanie was flying, she
found a wild snapdragon and started sipping nectar. As monarchs migrate
southward, they stop often to nectar, building up their stores of fat to
help them through the winter. It was getting deeper in the day. It was
time for the owls to start hunting. One of them swooped down and tried
to catch Melanie, but he noticed her bright warning coloration, and
decided to leave her alone.

Melanie flew over a pond in northern Texas. She discovered dandelions
growing nearby and stopped to drink some nectar. She glided over the
pond and rested on a lily pad. A frog jumped onto the lily pad and
frightened her away. She stayed far away from the pond until the frog
left. She drank from a little droplet of water that had formed on a
leaf. She took tiny sips because monarchs don?t usually drink from large
bodies of water. Then Melanie soared away from the pond towards the

Melanie decided to fly over the Guadalupe mountains in south west Texas.
As Melanie was going over the mountain she eyed some wild roses and
marigolds. She also glimpsed goats eating grass. She noticed that the
higher she flew, the colder it got. Melanie got so cold she fell down.
Monarchs can?t fly when their wings get too cold. A man spotted her and
brought her down the mountain. He warmed her up by cupping her in his
hands and gently blowing his warm breath on her. Soon Melanie could fly.
She started back on her journey. Melanie knew she was close to Mexico
now. Melanie found her way to the overwintering grounds in El Rosario.
She found a tree with thousands of other butterflies on it and settled
into a spot for a long rest.

Melanie shared a branch of an oyamel tree with hundreds of other
butterflies that winter. They stayed there most of the time,
occasionally leaving the roost to nectar or drink. They had to be
careful while they were close to the ground, though. The black-backed
oriole, the grosbeak, and the black-eared mouse eat part of the monarch
population overwintering in Mexico each year.

When winter was over, Melanie and thousands of other monarchs started
their journey north. Her wings were faded and tattered now, not like the
brightly colored wings she had when she was young. In Texas, Melanie
identified a field of milkweed, and stopped to mate and lay her eggs. It
was time for Melanie to die now, but the next generation of monarchs
continued her journey, and the circle of life.

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