Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (Reserva de la Biosfera Mariposa Monarca), a national protected area covering more than 200-square-miles is getting ready to opens its door to tourists as its star attraction comes home to hibernate for the winter.
The Monarch butterflies start arriving in Mexico in late-October every year just like generations before and make their winter homes in the tops of the mountain trees. As many as 60 million to one billion Monarch butterflies make the nearly 3,000 mile journey with weather temperature as their only guide taking them from Canada through the U.S. onto their winter home in central Mexico. The butterflies travel only by day and will rest at night, usually on tree branches and trunks.
Mexico’s Natural Protected Areas Commission announced that the butterfly sanctuaries will open to the public this week and will remain open until March 31, 2017. The sanctuaries are open to the public between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. seven days a week. This is the opportunity for visitors to see up close the massive clusters of butterflies blanketing tree trunks. Once again weather is a key element to protecting this natural wonder – the Monarch cluster together to conserve body heat and survive the cold evenings.
There are two sanctuaries in the state of Michoacan and two others in the state of Mexico. The most popular is El Rosario in the state of Michoacan, followed by Sierra Chincua also in Michoacan.
In spite of the impressive number of Monarch butterflies that arrive in Mexico each year their population is under siege. The population has declined 95% in the last 20 years, according to environmental experts. Most scientists blame the decline on pesticide use in the U.S., climate change and the destruction of milkweed, the food plant of monarch caterpillars.
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