All summer, the monarchs were on the go, alighting on flowers only long enough to catch a sip before moving on. The business of summer for monarchs is to increase their numbers, generation by generation, but the last generation of the year is tasked with a much different agenda. For the last couple days of September, we had five monarchs lingering in the backyard, shifting from one New England aster to another, methodically tanking up for that 2500 mile journey south and west to a mountain in Mexico. With delicate but improbably powerful wings, and no experience or memory beyond what is embedded in their genes, they masterfully navigate through that turbulent ocean of air. They are this year's last generation and next year's first. Barring calamitous weather in their winter hideaway, come March they will fly the first leg of the multigenerational journey northward in 2020, so that their descendants can grace our gardens once again.
Note: The website JourneyNorth is good for tracking the migration both north and south. The monarchs tend to arrive at their winter roost in the first few days of November.