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Monarch Butterflies appear in large numbers in Sierra Gorda

27 November, 2014 - 12:51 -- World Land Trust
Monarch Butterflies in Sierra Gorda.

Although three weeks late, Monarch Butterflies have started to appear all over Sierra Gorda, stopping off on their long migration to the fir forests further south.

Roberto Pedraza, Technical Officer of Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda, World Land Trust’s (WLT) conservation partner in Mexico took this photograph on 22 November 2014.

He told us: “As you  know, Monarch Butterflies are extremely endangered  thanks to logging, government ‘protected areas’ that aren’t protected, and industrialised agriculture in the US and Canada.”

Roberto found the big group of the butterflies in the highlands of Sierra Gorda. There were so many of them that the branches of the cedar were bowing under the weight.

He noticed that they had returned to the same place that he remembered them visiting when he was a child.

“When I was young, the oak branches bent under the weight of the butterflies. Now there is a cedar in the same spot, and the same oaks with some butterflies. Unfortunately they are nothing compared with their former numbers, but it’s amazing how they ‘remember’ their wintering grounds in central Mexico, and the good spots to have a nap and a rest during the long journey.”

Traditionally Monarch Butterflies arrive in Mexico on the Day of the Dead, which is celebrated on the first two days of November, and according to Mexican folklore they are said to represent the souls of the dead.

More information

WLT has funded land purchase and conservation in Sierra Gorda since 2007. You can help save more habitat for Monarch Butterflies  by making a donation to WLT's Buy an Acre appeal.  

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Comments

"... their long migration to the fir forests ..." I never would have thought that there could be migratory insects too (unless driven by hunger, like the locusts in my mind). I always thought this is reserved, due to energy constraints, for "warm-blooded" animals such as birds or mammals. However, as with migratory birds, they sometimes can "live" with one habitat falling away, and keeping to the other, which "totally local" species cannot.

Submitted by Roberto Pedraza on

Hola Maureen,

Unfortunately for monarch butterflies, they depend on healthy ecosystems in three different countries. Asclepias, their main food source in the US and Canada, have been displaced thanks to massive-industrial agriculture. While in central Mexico, the fir forests they need for wintering have been destroyed thanks to heavy logging, although they are under "protection" by the Government. So again, this species can vanish in a few years, thanks to the clever humans.

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