The Overwintering Season
December 2016 by Elizabeth Howard

What happens month-by-month while the monarchs are in Mexico?

Monarch Sanctuaries Open for 2016-2017 Season

Estela Romero describes how the season began:

November 19 and 20, the Sanctuaries of Monarch Butterflies in Central México, located in the mountains of Angangueo, Michoacán, have just officially opened Season 2016-2017 to tourists from as far away as from China and researchers coming from all over the world!

In Angangueo town, the opening of the sanctuaries with the arrival of the Monarch Butterflies happened during our big celebration of the Mexican Revolution. We had a festive parade in the streets of Angangueo.

Entrance tickets at both Sanctuaries this year should cost 45 forty five pesos. With a ticket, tourists can take a 40 minute walk or pay 150 pesos to reach the butterfly colonies.

The butterfly colonies are just taking shape right now, and there is a fair population in Sanctuary El Rosario. Because the weather is rather cloudy and chilly these days, the colonies looks very quiet and silent inside the grey forest.

Many members of Ejidatarios families are cheerful and look forward to their jobs as guides, vendors, or other services providers to tourists at the Sanctuaries.

We are all so happy that Monarchs have now arrived. We all know that we have an extra chance to make a much better living during these months!"

Diego and Mariela, 8 and 9, elementary school students, live in El Rosario community too:

Monarchs are the sign of many things to us, and with the arrival of Christmas very soon, there is a job for almost everyone in our families. We love visitors from all over the world!"

Marina, 15, in high school also expresses the same:

For me it is so important that we in the family have a chance to have a job thanks to Monarchs."

Juan Carlos, 17, second year at high school, invites everyone to come over!

The same lively atmosphere is happening in Sierra Chincua Sanctuary. Guides of all ages stop cars of tourists wandering around trying to guess where the main entrance of Sanctuary Sierra Chincua, offering themselves to guide families for a voluntary fee.

Very young guides play their own role in a wonderful way explaining to tourists some of the most important signs found along the pathway into the colony, speaking about the life-cycle of Monarchs, and where we are exactly located in our country and in our bordering states, Michoacán and México States.

Finally, if on the one hand, some remainings of the terrible wind and sleet storm last March 2016 can be seen, on the other hand, canopy is all green and blossoming everywhere for Monarchs to have nectar all over their overwintering time at our Oyamel forests!

Estela Romero
Angangueo, Michoacán, México

Estela Romero
Map Monarch Butterfly Winter Sanctuaries in Mexico
Overwintering Region
Monarch butterfly overwintering region in Mexico
A Special Location
Winter in Mexico: Month-by-Month
November   December
Monarch Butterflies arriving in Mexico   Scientists visit the 12 wintering sites and measure the surface area the colonies cover.
Throughout the month, monarchs continue to arrive from the north and settle in at the 12 traditional wintering sites.
  Being Counted
Scientists visit the 12 wintering sites and measure the surface area the colonies cover. Results will be released by March, 2017.
January   February
Monarch Butterflies wintering in Mexico   Monarch Butterflies wintering in Mexico
Surviving Cold
Watch the weather! At this coldest time of year, monarchs are at the greatest risk of mortality from deadly winter storms.
  Preparing to Migrate
Monarchs that survive four winter months will mate and begin the journey north in March. Join us for weekly updates on Feb. 9, 2017.
Report Winter Sightings

Seeing Monarchs?

Please continue to report all sightings. Help document where monarchs are present during the winter months.

Monarch Butterfly: Adult Sighted  
  Adult Butterflies
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Next Update February 9, 2017