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Monarchs can’t fly in temps below 55 degrees.

But they will make an exception if it’s sunny out. Karen Oberhauser, a wildlife professor at the University of Minnesota who has been studying monarch butterflies for almost 30 years, explains how these colorful creatures thermoregulate: “If it’s cooler than 55 degrees but sunny, you’ll see them orient the middle part of their bodies, known as the thorax, toward the sun. Because their bodies are black, they soak up the heat just as you would if you were wearing a dark-colored shirt.” To warm their muscles, they also shiver, which results in what Oberhauser describes as “tiny twitches.” As you might imagine, the weather plays a crucial role in monarch migration. “Butterflies are on a tight schedule, just like air travelers,” Oberhauser says. “If they don’t get far enough south in time, they can literally get stuck.” Guess we have more in common with these winged things than we thought.



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