Attention Texas: The Monarchs are coming

Monarchs will fly in the thousands through Texas this month

Attention Texas: The Monarchs are coming

Fri, 2012-09-21

The monarchs are coming!

As the cold weather sweeps down from Canada in September, millions of monarch will take flight to escape it. In three pathways, monarch butterflies will flood from the United States into central Mexico. One group flies from the west through Arizona and New Mexico. Another migrates from central Canada, the Midwest and Great Plains through central Texas. The final cluster will travel along the Appalachian Mountains and Atlantic seaboard to follow the Texas coast to Mexico. 

When the autumn season brings shorter daylight and cooler temperatures, the monarchs read these as signs that they need to stop reproducing and head to their winter home in Mexico. 

The butterflies will reach Texas by late September, and the number will peak during October. The largest migration concentrations will cross into Mexico around Del Rio in the last half of October. By Thanksgiving, most will have settled into their reserves in the mountainous oyamel fir forests. 

There was a drought through the Midwest and parts of central Texas this year. This resulted in sparse wildflowers and few natural nectar sources, which is what the butterflies are dependent on. The southern rains in southeast Texas, however, have produced many nectar-rich flowers. This means the monarchs will – thankfully – have sufficient food to nourish them when they arrive.