The Elusive Monarch

21 Jan

067Do you see the Monarch butterflies in the photo? Look closer. All of what you think are leaves are butterflies with folded wings. They are massed in the pine and oak trees huddling for warmth on a cloudy Saturday in Morales, Mexico.


When the sun shines, which it did not do the day we visited, the trees explode with a mass of orange. The butterflies flutter so close to the heads of the onlookers they can hear the beating of hundreds of wings.


The eastern population of the Monarch butterfly (mariposa) migrates from eastern North America to Mexico to overwinter. We visited them in the sanctuary of the Mariposa Monarca Biosphere Reserve near Morales Mexico on the border of Michoacan and Mexico state about four hours from Guanajuato. The reserve is a World Heritage Site where the migrating Monarchs and their habitat are protected.


Though the mariposas did not fly on the day we were in the reserve, Dana and I have seen the western migration of the Monarchs in the eucalyptus groves of Santa Barbara, California. There the clumps of butterflies cluster in the fragrant groves to fly when the sun shines. We saw the clouds of orange against the deep blue of the sky there one January day.

Though the outside world did not acknowledge the southern over-wintering location of the Monarchs until the early 1980s,  the indigenous people in the villages surrounding the reserve lived with the migration for hundreds of years. The butterfly was and is part of their native culture and art.

Logging, tourism and climate change are reducing the habitat of the Monarch butterflies to threatening levels. Some predict we may not be able to see the like of this in the near future.




5 Responses to “The Elusive Monarch”

  1. David Charboneau January 22, 2015 at 7:50 pm #

    In Florida with Dad. Just getting caught up on your latest adventure. How great! Will keep following.

    • Jill January 22, 2015 at 7:55 pm #

      So great to have you here traveling with us.

  2. Ursula January 21, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

    Nature is magical!

  3. Sylvia Crain January 21, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

    Jim and I visited this reserve about 15 years ago, traveling over a rough dirt road at the time. Such a magical thing, although the day we were there it too was cliudy and we only saw an occasional fluttering of a few butterflies.

    • Jill January 21, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

      The day before my classmate visited. The sun was brilliant and the butterflies filled the air. But as soon as the sky clouded the butterflies would return to the trees. I follow your travels on Facebook. We too loved Monteverde.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: