It's a phenomenon that's a sight to behold; an entire forest covered in Monarch butterflies. It's an annual occurrence in the Oyamel fir tree forest, located in the eastern part of the state of Michoacan, west of Mexico City. There, in a protected area of over 140,000 acres, the little creatures who have traveled as many as 3,000 miles, come to rest in the beautiful tree canopy.
Why do they migrate? Butterflies are not able to survive the cold winters in most of the United States. So, just like their feathered friends, they head south to warmer climates to prolong and ensure their survival.
Most Monarch butterflies live from 4 - 6 weeks. But butterflies that are born in the late fall are able to stay alive a lot longer. Called the 'super-Monarchs, they migrate to Mexico in the fall and return part way back to mate and lay eggs on milkweed plants. Newly hatched butterflies fly north, and the cycle repeats itself.
Monarch butterflies are not the only North American butterflies that migrate. Gulf fritillary (Agraulis vanilla) and the cloudless sulphur (Phoebis sennae) also migrate. But the Monarch is the only butterfly that migrates in two directions; south and west towards Mexico and southern California.
If you are a butterfly lover, it would be ideal to make a trip to Mexico for a once-in-a-lifetime butterfly migration experience.