I saw my first Monarch yesterday, floating over my flower beds, landing on my milkweed, maybe (fingers crossed) laying an egg that will start the cycle of the Monarch all over again, from egg, to chrysalis, to butterfly, to Mexico!
In Bicycling with Butterflies, the author Sara Dykman begins her journey in Mexico where the Monarchs overwinter, and follows the Monarchs as they start their 3,000 mile journey north to reproduce and start new generations. The Monarchs have been at their overwintering sites in Mexico since early November, roosting in high altitude, tropical fir forests. Mexico has created monarch sanctuaries to protect these overwintering grounds, the Cerro Pelon and Piedra Herrada sanctuaries in the State of Mexico, and El Rosario and Sierra Chincua on the eastern edge of Michoacán state.
If you want to visit these sanctuaries from November to March, you’d fly into Mexico City and travel to Zitácuaro, Michoacán, the closest major city. Be forewarned, however: monarch roosts are at high altitude, and you need to hike or ride a horse to see the sites closely.
Monarch butterflies and their sanctuaries are threatened by climate change, loss of habitat, the eradication of milkweed, and toxic pesticides. There has also been concern that violence and illegal logging in the area will affect those who work and support the sanctuaries.
I for one, would love to escape our Cleveland Winter in December for trip to see the Monarchs. There are so many ways to visit and support them from your doorstep as well – plant milkweed, plant a pollinator garden, advocate for habitat restoration, and, of course, keep informed! And register for our talk with author Sara Dykman, who, I’m sure, will have many more suggestions for ensuring that future generations experience the magic of Monarchs!