How Long Do Monarchs Live?
Estimating the Lifespan of a Monarch of the Overwintering Generation
(Answer Sheet)

During the summer breeding season, monarchs live for only 2-6 weeks. But the monarchs that migrate to Mexico in the fall are different: They are born in late summer, stay alive all winter, and migrate north the following spring. How long do these monarchs live?

Torn, tattered and faded, this monarch was found in late April in Arkansas by Jim Edson

This lesson should be done in late April. Students will estimate how long monarchs of the overwintering generation can live. Based on migration reports, in which people remark about monarchs with torn and faded wings, few monarchs that overwinter in Mexico seem to live beyond late April.

Try This!
1. Think back to when you came to school last fall. You may have raised your own monarchs and sent them on their way to Mexico. If your monarchs are still alive, how old would they be now? The monarchs that over-wintered in Mexico are now in their final days. Those that are still alive have been alive for a long, long time!

2. Assume a butterfly emerged as an adult on August 25th. As of the following April 25th, how long has the butterfly been alive? (Students should grapple with this question in small groups. Do not distribute chart below until they've had time to think thought the problem. They probably won't need the chart!)

3. Here's one way to think about this math problem. For each month on the chart below, fill in the number of days (and weeks and months) the butterfly lived. Then add them all for the total.


# Days

# Weeks

# Months

August 25 (emerged)
































April 25 (still alive)





____ Days

____ Weeks

____ Months

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