TH!NK post

The Miraculous Migration: Monarch Butterflies

Published 19th October 2010 - 0 comments - 2314 views -

Between Mexico, Northern United States, and Canada there is a very unique phenomenon that reminds many of how miraculous nature can be. This astonishing feat is made by the monarch butterflies, which are insects that span the life of three to four generations to get from one country to another.


Mariposa Monarca picture by flickr user Gustavo (lu7frb)

Mariposa Monarca picture by flickr user Gustavo (lu7frb)
and used under a Creative Commons license.


In the blog Destinos Inolvidables [es] (Unforgettable Destinations), monarch butterflies are described as:

"The monarch butterfly, apart of its beauty, is characterized by its resistance and its longevity, while some other butterfly species have a life cycle of 24 days, a monarch butterfly can live up to 9 months, meaning 12 times longer."

Every year at the end of October, millions of monarch butterflies arrive to forests in Michoacan and the State of México in Mexico after flying approximately 4,000 km from the Northern US and Canada. Inhabitants of the region and tourists come to witness the large number of butterflies in the forest, in places known as sanctuaries. At the blog Tips de Viajero [es] (Traveler's Tips), the experience of visiting a sanctuary is explained:

"A magnificent trip, very tiring, but when you get to the top and you witness millions of butterflies flying around you, it is indescribable. Kids get amazed and the adults regain our capacity for astonishment: nature is wise, there is no doubt about it."

This event goes back to ancient times, as there exist admiration testimonies. Even in Mexican archaeological sites, sculptures and paintings of Monarch butterflies have been found. Sadly, because of deforestation and brutal weather changes, butterflies are finding it harder to survive. According to El Universal newspaper, in the beginning of February, 30% of the monarch butterflies in one of the most important national sanctuaries, Santuario Piedra Herrada [es], died from a strong cold front in the region.

However, this migration phenomenon continues strong today. One of the most typical festivities in Mexico is El día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), it is when Mexicans commemorate the memory of their beloved ones that have passed on. An indigenous culture, the Mazahua people, believe that the arrival of monarch butterflies every October represent the souls of the dead, as they also believe they bring a message between the gods and the Earth.

By this October 2010, National Geographic decided to show the incredible journey of different species, such as the Monarch Butterfly:

"National Geographic Channel’s Great Migrations gives the word 'move' a whole new meaning. This seven-part global programming event takes viewers around the world on the arduous journeys that millions of animals undertake to ensure the survival of their species."

I invite TH!NKers, and everybody else who is reading this post, to follow this incredible migration, and get informed by some wonders that come from our environment.

(Andrea Arzaba, October 2010)

I publicated this article one year ago for Global Voices Online. I have added and updated information for this new post.

Category: Animal Kingdom, | Tags:


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