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Winter Reserve of the Monarch Butterfly

Danaus plexippus


Monarch butterflies from the winter reserve of "El Rosario" in Michoacan, Mexico. In the first picture, they are drinking water at one of the many natural springs on the ground. The second and third pictures are of butterflies feeding on nectar. The fourth and fifth pictures show the aglomerations in the Oyamela Fir Trees. The last picture is of the thousands of dead butterflies in the underbrush. No one is allowed to walk outside of the trail or touch, molest, pick-up or keep any butterfly specimens.


Fir-pine forests of the El Rosario Reserve above Angangueo, Michoacan.


This was the most wonderful experience imaginable! The Monarch watch estimates that there were about 140 million butterflies present this year within the 56 square miles of the Monarch Reserve. The day we were there was warm and sunny and thousands of monarchs were flying and feeding. There are so many in flight that you can hear their collective wing beats like a small rush of wind. The forests of Michoacan are very special, in that there are many flowering plants for the butterflies to feed on during warm weather and a lot of ground water available for drinking. Many were mating on the ground. The fir tree that the Monarchs prefer for their overwintering masses is called the Oyamel or the Sacred Fir (Abies religiosa) and is native to Mexico. While thousands die each year, millions more survive to begin their return migration to the US and Canada. About 80 local guides care for the El Rosario Reserve and accompany all visitors. They also search for and collect all the tags from monarchs that have been banded before migration.

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LaurenZarate 11 years ago

Thank you Karen and Jakubko... It was wonderful.

Jacob Gorneau
Jacob Gorneau 11 years ago

What a superb series! I especially like the photo of them drinking water!

KarenL 11 years ago

That must be a memorable experience!

LaurenZarate 11 years ago

Thank you Carol and EnvUnlimited...

Carol Snow Milne
Carol Snow Milne 11 years ago

WOW! Lovely!

LaurenZarate 11 years ago

Thank you ceherzog, I hope you can go someday, it is really amazing and one of the great wonders of nature.

ceherzog 11 years ago

I would love to see that some day...wonderful series!!

LaurenZarate 11 years ago

Thank you so much for your comments, Kerry, Luis, Yuko, Mauna and Jason.

Jason Alexander
Jason Alexander 11 years ago


mauna Kunzah
mauna Kunzah 11 years ago


YukoChartraw 11 years ago

Must be an experience of a lifetime! I envy you so much! Thank you for sharing such an incredible experience you had!

LuisStevens 11 years ago

Beautiful series Lauren! Great info. I went there 2 weeks before you and I agree with you, it is a wonderful experience.

KerryHawkins 11 years ago

What an amazing experience for you. The photos are awesome Lauren.

Spotted by

Michoac√°n, Mexico

Spotted on Feb 19, 2013
Submitted on Mar 10, 2013

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