Great Migrations series looks at the Monarch Butterfly’s epic journey
The second in one of the New Zealand Mint's new coin series for 2016 debuts today and it's the latest of the Great Migrations. A great idea to run with, each release looks at one of the epic round-trips undertaken in the animal kingdom, and there are some truly amazing feats to explore. The first release depicted the mass migration of more than two million Zebras across the Serengeti and had a clean reverse side depicting a large herd of the animals with a select few in a plane of focus picked out in colour. It works very well.
This next release takes the same concept and applies it to the insect world. The migration of millions of beautiful Monarch butterflies across North America is truly an epic one. Populations of untold numbers undertake the multi-generational trips, many of these delicate creatures not surviving. The riot of colour and relative accessibility has made this a popular sight in contrast to the more remote nature of the Zebra migration.
The design is identical in concept to the first one. A busy mass of Monarchs with some picked out in colour. It works superbly in our view, a nice idea that's been expertly realised. This series makes a pleasant change from the normal numismatic depictions of the animal world as animal behaviour is far more interesting than how an animal looks.
The obverse is the mints usual design for its Niue issues, an Ian Rank Broadley effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. The packaging is first class, like that of the Warriors of History series, but even more heavily customised with colour art. Priced at $80.00 USD it should be up on the NZ Mint estore later today, along with their many stockists worldwide.
THE MONARCH BUTTERFLY
Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) perform annual migrations across North America which have been called “one of the most spectacular natural phenomena in the world". The Monarch is a milkweed butterfly. Its wings feature an easily recognizable black, orange, and white pattern, with a wingspan of 8.9–10.2 cm. It may be the most familiar North American butterfly, and is considered an iconic pollinator species.
Starting in September and October, eastern/northeastern populations migrate from southern Canada and the United States to overwintering sites in central Mexico where they arrive around November. They start the return trip in March, arriving around July. No individual butterfly completes the entire round trip; female monarchs lay eggs for the next generation during the northward migration and at least five generations are involved in the annual cycle.
Similarly, the western populations migrate annually between regions west of the Rocky Mountains including northern Canada and overwintering sites at the coast of California.
Monarchs also perform small distance migrations in Australia and New Zealand. There are also some populations, for instance in Florida and the Caribbean, that do not migrate. Recently discovered overwintering sites have been identified in Arizona and northern Florida.
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