Reaching Fever Pitch

March 1, 2018 by Elizabeth Howard

Temperatures are rising, moisture is falling, and mating is underway. Activity is reaching fever pitch. Spring migration begins this month!

As their habitat becomes increasingly dry, thirsty butterflies break out of their clusters and head out in search of water. Image by Estela Romero, El Rosario Sanctuary, February 26, 2018

A Swirling Fluttering Frenzy

Butterfly behavior is at its most spectacular now. In the sanctuaries you might see a blizzard of butterflies — flapping, gliding, mating, drinking, and bursting from their clusters.

Estela’s trip to El Rosario Sanctuary on Monday was nothing short of spellbinding.

“Monarchs covered the ground in a majestic orange carpet and the air was incessantly invaded by a brilliant orange veil. It was almost smothering. The butterfly activity was uninterrupted and kept us immobile, paralyzed within the next few hours. Has this been seen in the past? No, not that I remember quite like this. Nor have I seen such a contrast in a single day, between yesterday’s heavy, dense clusters at Sierra Chincua and today’s miracle in front of my eyes, with not a single cluster to be seen anywhere. Mating? Hardly possible at this incredible level of activity all day long! Only two couples could I catch mating among these many millions!” More…

Pre-Migration Colony Break-Up

Mexico’s dry season began when the monarchs arrived in November and it will last until they leave in mid-March. The monarch’s winter habitat is extremely dry now. Migration is still a few weeks away, but the colonies break up as the butterflies fly out in search of water. As the month progresses, they’ll move down the mountains into lower portions of the watersheds.