Visiting a Sanctuary in Mexico

February 8, 2018 by Elizabeth Howard

Welcome to Journey North's 25th season. We start with the sights and sounds of a butterfly colony, where monarchs have been resting since November.

El Rosario Sanctuary, February 3, 2018 by Estela Romero

Hello from Michoacán, Mexico

As we wait for spring migration to begin in March, our local reporter, Estela Romero, will send weekly news from the sanctuary region.

Estela visited El Rosario Sanctuary this week and shares her observations. The site is at 10,000 feet in elevation and a short drive from her small mountain town of Angangueo. El Rosario typically contains more monarchs than any other sanctuary — sometimes half of the entire overwintering population. How many monarchs this year?

“Guides said that monarchs at El Rosario have divided into two colonies this season as usual - one at Los Letreros and a second at Los Horcones,” reports Estela. “The Colony at Los Letreros reflects a healthy population of around 17 to 18 trees, very densely covered from foot to top.

“Last year at this site, more than 50 trees were covered with clusters!! It was the most breathtaking spectacle I will never forget!! 

“However, though there were far more butterfly trees last year, the clusters were not as dense. So all and all, I would guess Los Letreros has half as many butterflies this year, at most. Los Horcones has a slightly smaller population of around 10 trees according to the guides.” More…

Population News: Waiting for the Official Count

We’re waiting for the Mexican government to release this winter’s population count. The data are typically available by mid-March. What will the official count reveal?

Based on observations made during last fall’s late and lackluster migration, we do anticipate a smaller population — perhaps as low as 2 hectares. A sustained population of 6 hectares is the target for monarch recovery. We’ll post the news as soon as it’s available.