Monarch Butterflies and Intelligent Design

Excerpt from Grant R. Jeffrey’s book, Creation: Remarkable Evidence of God’s Design, connects the life-cycles of monarch butterflies to proof of intelligent design. (Ch. 2 “Wonder’s of God’s Creation”)

Monarch butterflies are among the most gloriously beautiful and ingenious of the millions of insects who migrate across great distances in the course of their lives. However, the life and migration pattern of the monarch butterfly is significantly more complex than that of most other birds, fish, or insects. 

There are four generations of butterflies in the course of a year. The first three generations of butterflies only live for up to six weeks from the time they develop out of the caterpillar stage till death. During the annual cycle of the monarch, three separate generations live their short lives in Canada during the spring and summer months.

The fourth generation that will migrate from Canada three thousand miles south to the mountainous plateaus of Mexico and home again are born in the late summer and will live for eight months. Hundreds of millions of monarchs from across Canada begin their remarkable, 3,000-mile-long migration on the night of the autumn equinox—September 21—when the amount of day is precisely balanced by the amount of night. The monarchs finally arrive in Mexico on the plateaus and ridges of volcanic mountains almost two miles above sea level. These butterflies now survive on water alone for four months, from December till March. When their fast ends toward the middle of March, the monarchs begin to feast on the abundant nectar of the tremendous number of flowers available on the mountains, building the fuel reserves they will need for the long flight ahead. The butterflies will mate in the middle of March just before setting out on their extraordinary migration back to Canada. 

On the night of the spring equinox—March 21—the enormous colony of millions of monarch butterflies ascends from its southern Mexican home into the heavens to begin the epic migration back to Canada. When it arrives back in Canada, the whole generation of monarchs give birth to the next generation of their species. Then the complete fourth generation of butterflies dies. The new first generation of the new cycle born in Canada will live six weeks. This will be followed by the second and third generations, each of which will live only approximately six weeks. 

This remarkable situation raises a number of questions: How can the genetic code of the monarch instruct the fourth generation to live over six months longer than the other three short-lived generations? How can the fourth-generation monarchs know to migrate three thousand miles to arrive at a plateau in Mexico when the other three short-lived generations do not have these DNA migration instructions? How could an evolutionist ever explain how the fourth generation knows to begin its long southern migration on the night of the autumnal equinox and to begin its northern migration on the night of the spring equinox? The only reasonable explanation is that the Creator has programmed the beautiful monarchs to follow these precise instructions since their original creation.

[Only for non-commercial, educational purposes]

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