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According to Popular Science (This article and its images were originally posted on Popular Science January 2, 2019 at 06:20PM.)
Each year, butterfly fans across the eastern United States watch as the monarchs flap thousands of miles across the country to their overwintering sites in Mexico (western monarchs overwinter in California.) Once there, they dive into nap mode on a tree, surviving off fat stored up on the trip down. Scientists once thought that all of the monarchs in eastern North America followed this path, although they’ve known about small non-migratory populations in warmer parts of the country for a while now. A new study out today in the journal Animal Migration contradicts prevailing wisdom about where at least some migratory monarchs go in the winter—and what they do when they get there.
Using a technique called stable isotope analysis, researchers sampled the wings of a subset of a non-migratory population of monarchs located in south Florida. What they found was unexpected: Almost half of their sample—forty-eight percent—came from elsewhere. The monarchs had grown up as far away as the Midwest and Texas, parts of the monarch’s broad summer breeding range, which suggests that most of them made the trip deliberately, rather than just being blown off-course during their flight south. In southern Florida, unlike their overwintering in central Mexico, the monarchs just hang out and mix with the local population.
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