Learning from the Monarch Butterfly


Paul tells us that what may be known about God is plain to people, because God has made it plain to them. God not only uses manˇ¦s conscience (Romans 2:15) and the religious inclination of his spirit to let him know the existence of the Deity, He also manifests to man His eternal power and divine nature through the universe and all creation. Although man cannot see God with his mortal eyes, God has revealed Himself through the beauty of nature and the wondrous design of the universe so that man cannot deny the truth of the Lordˇ¦s existence. (Romans 1:19-20)


The philosopher of Proverbs asks man to observe the ant, to apprehend the meaning of life through the insect world so that he would be wise in heart. ˇ§Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.ˇ¨ (Proverbs 6:6-8) Ants are able to plan for a rainy day. They teach us to plan for eternity, and to work more diligently for the Lord while there is still opportunity.


This writer feels that we can learn lessons from the Monarch butterfly. The Monarch butterfly undergoes incredible changes during its life cycle.  They lay their eggs on the Milkweed plant, and the larvae become active four days later. The larvae feed only on the Milkweed leaves, which contain a poisonous ingredient, but the larvae are not harmed by it. In fact, the poison produces a foul odour on the bodies of the larvae that turn off birds and other insects and so are rejected as food. Around two weeks later, the Monarchs will turn into chrysalises, and after 10 more days of metamorphosis, a beautiful Monarch butterfly will break out of the cocoon and fly freely among the flowers. Its life span after turning into a butterfly is between 2 to 6 weeks. The greatest peculiarity of the Monarch butterfly is that they migrate each year from the north to the south to escape the cold. In early Fall, they fly en masse from the Great Lakes region of North America to the central mountains of Mexico in the south, a distance of over 3,000 miles, which is the farthest among migrating butterflies. According to research, between February and March each Springtime, the Monarch butterfly is roused from a hibernating state in the Mexican hilly region. They become mobile and mate. Then they fly back north to the Great Lakes region of North America to live. They will lay their first generation of eggs. The first generation of Monarchs go through the wondrous metamorphosis of egg, larva, caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly during March and April. Then the second generation also undergo the same transformations during May and June, and similarly the third generation in July and August. The first 3 generations of Monarchs have average life spans of 6 weeks. But the fourth generation lives much longer, an average of 6 to 8 months. They also sustain the same life changes as described above, then during September and October of each year, they fly south for the winter. What confounds naturalists is - why does the fourth generation live so much longer than the other three? How can this tiny insect fly such a long distance? How do they navigate? Most incredibly, the fourth generation of Monarch butterfly can find the exact same tree that its great-great grandparent hibernated upon. The writer believes that all this is the miraculous design of God, so that we can learn lessons from the Monarch butterfly.


The amazing life transformations of the Monarch butterfly make us think about old lives being changed into new lives through Jesus Christ. ˇ§Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!ˇ¨ (2 Corinthians 5:17) The saints on earth live and are protected by the Word of God, just as the Monarch larvae live by the Milkweed leaves (Matthew 4:4, 1 John 2:14). The writer is astonished that the sense of direction of this tiny insect is so much better than that of man. To their fourth generation, the Monarch butterfly still knows the way back to the habitat of their ancestors, maintaining the progression of their life journeys. On the contrary, some Christians are still quite ignorant of God, do not seek out the heart of the Lord and have lost all directional sense in spiritual matters. There is naturally no consideration of their next generation being instructed to turn back to and know the Lord. Of this type of believer, God has lamented; ˇ§Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord.ˇ¨ (Jeremiah 8:7)


By: Daniel To