Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Monarch migration

My butterfly friends gave a great presentation about their trip to the overwintering sites in Mexico today. The monarch reserves in Michoacan aren't easy to reach; they're east of Mexico City, outside the city of Morelia, but far off the normal tourist track. They went with a Monarch group from Georgia led by two experienced guides, with a group size of 11. Perfect!

Monarch on Zinnia in summer

To get to the reserves (the overwintering site for all of our Eastern monarchs) requires truck rides, hiking, and horseback. But my friends are definitely butterfly enthusiasts, and that wasn't going to be an obstacle for them.

Years ago, I visited the Pacific Grove reserve (the overwintering site of the Western U.S. monarchs); they were roosting all over the trees there, but were inactive at that time.

My friends were able to see the monarchs in Michoacan, stimulated by warmer weather at the end of February, flying around, and getting ready for migration north. How wonderful!

To follow migration of monarchs north and south, Monarch Watch and Journey North are both great organizations, with informative websites reflecting real time data. It gives folks like my butterfly friends and me the chance to tag monarchs and/or post our observations; we're contributing to a better understanding of migration patterns and variability as well as serving as citizen scientists.


  1. I'm jealous. And relieved that it sounds as if the reserves are intact; I heard they were being damaged. I said goodbye (wait! that's wrong, it's "au revoir") to my first generation of monarchs in my garden this fall. They LOVE the asclepius incarnata. Any chance you can post the presentation?

  2. The preserves are affected by illegal logging, but hopefully, international pressure will help support the Mexican government's efforts to protect the preserves.

    Perhaps I can post some of the photos- they did have a wonderful trip!

  3. Thanks for the link to the tracking site. Animal migration is fascinating and amazing! And monarchs seem so exotic from where I'm sitting.


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