The Monarch Butterfly season is coming! From november to march, this natural spectacle fills with festive orange the forests of central Mexico. Come and enjoy the view!
It’s been forty years since the route followed by the Monarch butterflies that every year come from Canada to the glens of Michoacán in Mexico forests to spend the winter here was first discovered. Several researchers had been looking for it since the last years of the XIXth century, following those majestic lepidoptera (flying insects) along the USA.
Frederich and Nora Urquhuart, the canadian researches that had studied the migratory phenomenon since the decade of the 50’s, turned to newspaper advertisements asking for information to whoever that had seen the Monarch butterfly passing by. They finally found them on January of 1975 and the amazing results of the investigation were published in the National Geographic magazine in 1976.
The ancient mexican cultures had a high regard for Monarch butterflies. They may not know where they come from and about their large trip, but they had carefully observed their life cycle. Monarch butteflies were associated to the sun god by their color, the joy and the flowers. They also were related to the warriors heroism. There are representations of Monarch butterflies in codices, mural painting, ceramic and carved stone.
It seems that Teotihuacan people considered the Monarch butterflies as the gods of ancient cultures, representatives of people who lived before them. The Toltecs used representations of the Monarch butterfly as pectoral shields. You can see them when visiting the “Atlantes de Tula”. Xochiquetzal, the mexica goddess of joy, flowers and household chores, was depicted with the wings and the body of a Monarch butterfly. The Mexicas believed that Monarch butterflies were the souls of dead children and warriors. The Mazahuas and Otomí people called the Monarch butterfly “the harvester” because she arrives when it’s time to pick the fruits of the land.
The natural reserves where the Monarch butterfly hibernates in Mexico are World Heritage declared by the UNESCO. It is a Nature’s gift shared by three nations: Canada, USA and Mexico. The three countries are privileged to enjoy this spectacle and responsible of its urgent preservation. When visiting the Sanctuaries of the Monarch Butterflies in Michoacan and State of Mexico, keep respect of these fragile creatures and your experience will be even better.
When spring is closer, Monarch butterflies reach their sexual maturity and detach from the clusters to mate. The spectacle is impressive and it is maybe the best moment to visit the sanctuaries. Since the firsts days of March, they start their trip to get back to their home in Canada.
If you are planning to visit the sanctuaries of the Monarch butterfly in México, consider the recommendations of the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry (Semarnat):
-Support local economy by buying the region products: food and handicrafts made by local people.
-Respect the rules of the sanctuary. The local people will give you recommendations that everyone must follow in order to preserve this natural phenomenon.
-A specialized guide will help you to get the best experience at the sanctuary.
-Do not bring music devices.
-Do not throw garbage, keep silence and bring a sweater.
-Use comfortable shoes,
-It is forbidden to take butterflies away from the sanctuary, dead or alive.