Every year, hundreds of millions of Monarch Butterflies from Canada and the United States journey as far as 2,500 miles to the forests of Michoacan, Mexico in what is known as the world’s largest insect migration. Countless butterflies cluster together both on the trees and on the ground, covering large areas into carpets of orange and black. It’s a breathtaking sight to behold, but as always, human greed is threatening to destroy it.
The great monarch migration is one of nature’s most fascinating mysteries. Tiny butterflies from places like Toronto, Winnipeg or Detroit embark on this epic transcontinental journey and somehow make it all the way to central Mexico. Nobody knows exactly how they do it, but some experts believe they are guided by celestial navigation and magnetic fields.
The Monarch butterflies start to arrive in Michoacan in late October to make their winter home in the trees high up in the mountains of the natural reserve. Once here, they will spend the next five months clustering together in large masses made up of thousands of tiny bodies that often look like colorful beehives. Often times, these clusters become so heavy that they cause tree branches to bend or even snap. But there’s a purpose to all these clustering – it allows the monarchs to survive in the low nighttime temperatures at these high altitudes.