Morelia, And A Billion Monarch Butterflies In Mexico

In central Mexico, outside the small charming town called Morelia, there’s an amazing UNESCO World Heritage site. An amazing phenomenon happening every winter from November to March, countless monarch butterflies show up in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, which is 3 hours from the west of Mexico City and about 1.5 hours east from Morelia.

Monarch butterflies from all over North America and even far as Canada migrate here every year, and that´s up to 4023KM/2500Miles of traveling.


Over the time, it takes them four generations, born and die to make this incredible journey. However,the migration patterns of monarch butterflies are changing now, because of the climate change.

It´s impossible to even think about counting the number of Monarch Butterflies here. But in order to give you an idea, we can assume a Monarch Butterfly weighs on average, about half a gram. This can vary from about 0.27 grams (a very small monarch!) to about 0.75 grams.

Monarch Butterfly
Monarch Butterfly

Since there so many Butterflies clustering together on the branches of the pine and oyamel trees in the Reserve, so trees branches often break from the weight of butterflies, which are clustering together during peak season in late December, according to the guide.

I visited the park in mid-November and still found it completely overwhelming to walk around and see all the butterflies. Meanwhile, I also need to struggle to keep them out of my mouth and eyes, I can barely imagine how it will look like in a month later when the numbers will double, as my guide claimed. 

Morelia
Morelia
MoreliaThe Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve was only discovered for 43 years by western researchers, and it was declared as a nature biosphere reserve by the Mexican president back in 1980. And it eventually got added to the UNESCO world heritage list in 2008.

The nature reserve contains eight sections with only 2 are opened to the public. According to my guide (required), there’s nothing in the two open parts can be compared to the other 6 ones that are closed to the public.

But my guide was also sad that they have seen a big decrease in the Monarch Butterfly here over the last few years, some were blaming climate changes, but the biggest impacts of the area are actually the heavy logging, mining, and farming, which are continuously going on in the surrounding areas.

Additional Information about The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.

To visit the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, it is possible from both Mexico City and Morelia by a day trip with local travel companies in both cities. A return trip from Mexico city with all including cost 550MXN/30USD.

A day trip from Mexico city normally starts around 8 AM and return around 77:30 PM.It will take nearly 4 hours drive each way to reach the parking lot, from where you will need to hike for around 30 min (horses are available) with your guide. A guide is mandatory.

There´s also a small museum, toilet and few restaurants and shops around the parking lot. Make sure to get some water with you from there.

At the beginning of the climb, you might will wondering if you’re in the right place since you won’t see any butterflies at all. As a matter of fact, you won’t see any butterfly until you are done with the climbing. And then, suddenly there are thousands of them all around you.

Another group is here, you need to leave your horse at about 10min walk away from where the butterflies are.
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