Can you tell me how long monarch butterflies typically live?
—Jean Caldwell, Saint Helen, Michigan
Tom: Monarchs are considered a long-lived butterfly compared to other species. The monarchs we see from spring through summer generally live 3 to 4 weeks —which is similar to the lifespan of many other butterflies. But those that belong to the migrating fall generation live from October to February or March, a period of 5 to 6 months. The longest-lived butterfly is the mourning cloak, at up to 10 months. Adult mourning cloaks emerge from their chrysalises around June. They become dormant during the hot summer months and hibernate for winter before emerging in spring to breed and lay their eggs. Adults generally die in late April or May. In contrast, many small, fragile hairstreaks or blues are lucky to survive 4 to 6 days as butterflies.