Monarch Butterfly Migration Heads to Mexico

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Monarch Butterfly Migration Heads to Mexico

Thu, 2012-09-13

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Three thousand miles stretch between where monarch butterflies migrate to spend their summers and winters. Every fall, the tens of millions of these nearly threatened species that live east of the Rocky Mountains must fly to warmer weather. While some hibernate in southern California, the majority of monarchs travel to central Mexico to rest in the mountain forests. There are only around a dozen sites in Mexico that the monarchs thrive in. In order to reach their destination before the weather becomes too cold, the butterflies travel up to 80 miles a day. They stop to feed on nectar, and to rest.

The cold weather is the most obvious threat to these delicate creatures, but many other obstacles lie in their way to Mexico. Habitat destruction and harm to their food sources damage the travel paths and destinations, with many being ruined by new roads, housing developments and expanding agriculture. The larvae has only one food source: milkweed. It is frequently pulled by gardeners, believing it to be a harmful weed.

Despite the challenges, these vibrantly colored beauties flock to Mexico yearly. The monarch migration begins in August, and is finally completed in October. Their brilliant orange-red wings, decorated with black and white, seem to melt together to form a striking cloud of color as they fly across the country. Those lucky enough to see a cloud of monarchs say it is a marvelous natural phenomenon. Hopefully you will be able to spot them, and appreciate the unique beauty of nature the migration offers, as the monarchs flutters past.