Visiting a Sanctuary in Mexico

February 9, 2017 by Elizabeth Howard

"I could not believe my eyes! It seemed as if I was looking to one of the best spectacles in recent years in terms of population!" exclaimed Estela Romero.

El Rosario Sanctuary in Michoacán, Mexico on January 25, 2017. By Estela Romero

News: Hello from Michoacán, Mexico

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

Estela visited two sanctuaries for us and shares her observations. Both sites are a short drive from her small mountain town of Angangueo. The forest sanctuaries sit at 10,000 feet in elevation. El Rosario Sanctuary usually has the largest number of butterflies — sometimes half of the entire population. Sierra Chincua Sanctuary typically has far fewer.

“I was amazed to see so many butterflies at El Rosario! There were more than 50 trees covered. The monarchs were in clusters, on tree trunks, and flying. The density was a big surprise and it was wonderful to see! It made me feel hopeful about the population considering last March’s devastating storm.” More…

Estela’s observations are surprising. Will this year’s official count reveal a larger population than expected?

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.

Based on observations made during last summer’s breeding season and last fall’s migration, a small population has been predicted — perhaps as low as 1 hectare. A population of 6 hectares is the target for monarch recovery. We’ll post the news as soon as it’s available.

Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary Tour

Driving Question

How do overwintering monarchs survive in the oyamel forest habitat?