It is perhaps the quietest animal migration on earth, so quiet in fact that until the 1970s no one even knew it happened. Every fall monarch butterfly populations of the United States and southern Canada head south to overwintering sites in Mexico. They go in search of food and warmer climes, a migratory journey that can take these delicate creatures two months to complete. Some will have traveled 3,000 miles, a seemingly formidable task for such a small and delicate a creature as a butterfly.Then, each March the next generations of monarchs return north, arriving home in July, having flown 50 to 100 miles every day for several weeks helped only by the wind and their fat reserves. It is the only butterfly known to perform such a migration, more likely seen in birds and larger animals, and although monarch butterflies can be found across the globe, the great North American migration is carried out by just one subspecies increasingly threatened by habitat loss and disease.They roost in huge numbers climbing into the millions on oyamel fir trees in just a few special mountain sanctuaries such as Sierra Chincua outside of the town of Angangueo in central Mexico. Completely covering the trees, they have been known to break the branches of the oyamels with their combined weight, despite the fact each individual weighs less than a gram. Even more astonishingly, the butterflies arrive at the same trees generation after generation, somehow knowing their destination without ever having seen it for themselves.The oyamel trees – also known as the sacred fir – create a microclimate which protects the butterflies from the worst of the weather, preventing temperatures rising too high or dropping too low, while clustering together also helps the creatures keep warm. To see the dark orange stained-glass patterning of the wings huddled among others on the trees, or the insects sweeping around the forest like the dropping leaves of fall is one of nature’s most astonishing spectacles. images: fws.gov
Category - Animals
While kittens and bunnies may be the cutest and killer whales and tarantulas may be the scariest (it’s scientifically prove, we…promise!), have you ever wondered which animals are the most colorful? We’ve rounded up 10 of the brightest, most striking animals on the planet to add a little color to your day.
Gouldian Finch. Colorblocking has been a major fashion movement over the past few seasons but the Gouldian Finch is the original trendsetter with its bright blocks of color all over its body. Males have a bright violet chest while females wear a more subdued mauve. They’re found mostly in Australia, though their native numbers have been declining over the decades.Mandarin Dragonet Fish. These little guys are popular aquarium fish— and you can see why. Their bright colors and psychedelic markings are a definite attention grabber. Though many people want to include them in their aquarium families, they’re notoriously picky eaters and will often refuse to eat fish food and prefer only the things they’d otherwise eat in the wild. Poison Dart Frogs. Many colorful animals are also poisonous. Their bright markings serve as a warning to predators to “stay away!” Such is the case for the poison dart frog. Many scientists believe that the frog’s poison comes from synthesizing the bugs they eat while in the wild. Captive frogs have been known to all but loose their toxicity when feed only on a diet of non-toxic insects, making them a popular pet choice in some circles.Sunset Moth. The only thing more striking than a sunset over a beach is a sunset moth on a tree. The multi colored moths are found mostly in Madagascar and are found in abundance from March through August, though smaller numbers do live throughout the year. Because of its beauty, its wings were even made into jewelry during the Victorian era.Blue Ringed Octopus. These cerulean polka dotted marine creatures are known to be some of the most venomous animals on the planet— they contain a toxin powerful enough to kill a full grown human. They’re native to the Indian and Pacific oceans from Australia to Japan. Clown Fish. Nemo, is that you? The cute clown fish has been forever immortalized in popular culture as the basis for Pixar’s Finding Nemo namesake. In real life, the fish live in coral reefs or shallow lagoons in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and evne in the Red Sea.Panther Chameleon. Chameleons are known for their color changing ways and this particular tropical forest dweller is no different. Chameleons aren’t born with the capacity to change to any color or environment; instead, each species has a range of color options, depending on their native environment’s temperature and light.Lilac Breasted Roller. These African birds look like abstract watercolors come to life. But while they look sweet and innocent, these birdies are actually quite aggressive when it comes to protecting their flock. Both parents incubate their eggs and will take on raptors if they need to! Peacock Mantis Shrimp. A far cry from popcorn shrimp, these brightly colored shrimp are native to The Indo-Pacific region though many salt water aquarium enthusiasts consider them prize additions to their aquarium. Watch out though— these little guys are aggressive and will actually use their hard shells to break the glass of their aquariums.Indian Peacock. In terms of classic colorful animals, the Indian Peacock is way up there. It’s one of the most well known bright birds and for good reason. Its iridescent feathers sparkle with jewel toned greens, blues, and yellows.
We’re pretty sure the Internet was invented solely to provide us with cute, funny animal photos to give our moms something to e-mail us about. And we are definitely not complaining! Animal photos are an instant and automatic day brightener and the Comedy Wildlife Awards are the pinnacle of that cuteness. The winning photographs for the 2016 awards have recently been released and as always, they’re gold.Whether it’s a spotted leopard LOL’ing at some unheard joke, a white owl looking particularly pleased with itself, a frog ready for its close up or a kangaroo catching some shade from a beachgoer’s umbrella, these animals will elicit an “aww” from even the most cynical among us. What’s even more impressive is the photographers’ ability to snap such a candid shot in the wild! [h/t ufunk.net]