Monarch Butterflies is unique, they are the only insect to travel thousand of miles while the seasons change every year. They actually travel from as far south as Canada all the way down to some very special mountaintops at Mexico’s central highlands. They usually do not have an airline ticket, or a vehicle.
For some, that might seem extreme, but consider this, the monarch butterfly makes a journey of up to twelve thousand miles in search of a mating location. They fly from southern Canada, the USA and all of central Mexico south to their nesting grounds in the mountains of Mexico. When they return north, they lay eggs, and the new monarchs begin their journey north again.
So, why would this insect take so long to make a journey of such a long distance? The majority of butterflies make a daily round trip across the United States and into Mexico for the winter. Even the most migratory monarch butterflies only spend a couple of nights in their home area and then move on to their next overwintering site. The vast majority of the North American Monarch Butterflies will return to their original location in the fall, but spend the first night of the following season in Mexico before returning to their original location.
Monarch Butterflies typically emerge from their overwintering sites on the second day. If you plan to visit them during their time of emergence, you will have to stay an extra day for the flight back to their point of origin. That is assuming the weather is warm enough on your arrival day to get them to that point. It could be the case that you can see them on your way to Mexico; it is not likely though.
What kind of species can you expect to see at your Monarch Butterflies Biosphere Reserve? There are actually several. On my last visit, I saw two very colorful species. One had a cream underside with red and black streaks, and the other was a dark brown with orange and yellow markings. They were flying around quite a bit and had stayed close to the plants most of the time. They seemed to prefer the foliage of cacti and orchids.
Another species of special interest to those interested in Monarch Butterflies is called the White-Lipped Monarch Butterfly. It is a resident in the south central Mexico and has a beautiful white tip to its wings. Interestingly, the Mexico authorities consider this a pest, and they are attempting to eradicate it. That means getting rid of the entire colony. The last I heard, the last monarch butterflies in the area were actually nesting.
In addition to all of this, you will find that the Monarch Butterflies has several other predators, who wish to eat them for their meat, and eggs. If you are lucky enough to see a male monarch, there is a good chance that he will be carrying around a female called the Red-winged Monarch Butterfly. The eggs are called Monarchs Eggs and they can only be fertilized by the male Monarchs. A pair of Red-winged monarchs can lay thousands of eggs in a year! In addition to their main food source, they also feed on some other things, such as larva, caterpillars, and sometimes even birds and insects.
In my travels, I have noticed that the Monarch Butterflies has an extreme concentration of winged adults in the high altitudes of northern Mexico, and their little ones can be found all over the central part of the state. The reason for this concentration is that they have been able to reproduce with much better ease due to the higher temperatures and the cooler nights. As you travel high into the mountains west of Mexico, you will see a variety of different species of butterflies, including the above-mentioned Red-winged Monarch Butterfly. Their beauty and appearance are enough to make your trip an unforgettable one, so don’t forget to capture them in your photos!