This week the monarch butterflies of Canada and the United States began their stupendous annual migration south to Mexico – so keep your eyes open for these black and orange beauties flitting over your gardens. It’s an extraordinary spectacle.
The arrival of the monarchs in Mexico in late October and early November coincides with that country’s “Dia de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) holiday. Many locals believe the butterflies represent the souls of their departed loved ones, returned to gather in trees and stretch out in a shimmering carpet on the forest floor.
Over the past 20 years, monarchs’ numbers have declined by 80 percent due to pesticide use, development, and climate change driving habitat loss. So in August 2014, environmental groups petitioned to protect these beautiful butterflies under the Endangered Species Act.
Additionally, many fans of the monarch butterflies have created Monarch Waystations in their own backyards in order to help bring back populations.
Check out some great maps of this year’s southward monarch migration.