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Monarch Butterfly, Michoacán's Emblem

Pleca de logos Michoacán

Every year the monarch butterfly is the living proof of needing to migrate in order to survive. This small day traveler insect travels up to 3100 miles to arrive at the natural reserves that will host them during the winter, until March of the next year.

Mariposa monarca

These migratory butterflies hatch in the summer and in early fall begin their journey to the California and Mexican reserves, where they shelter from the winter in the oyamel firs and pine trees of the sanctuaries.

In Mexico, the butterflies settle in the municipalities of Angangueo, Contepec, Senguio, Ocampo, Zitácuaro and Aporo in the state of Michoacán. While in the State of Mexico they settle in Temascalcingo, San Felipe del Progreso, Donato Guerra and Villa de Allende.

The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve is a protected natural area with a total extension of 56,259 hectares. The forest's variety of trees include oyamel, pine, oak, and cedar trees. The biosphere is also home to 184 species of vertebrates, including amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

Mariposa monarca

Since 2008 the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve has been regarded as a World Heritage Site by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

According to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI by its acronym in Spanish), between 7 and 20 million monarch butterflies arrive in Mexico in the reserve, habitat that has the ideal microclimate for the insect. The butterflies travel from southern Canada crossing through the United States to arrive through northern Mexico and settle in the sanctuaries, covering the trees.

Mariposa monarca

In Canada and the United States, the main threat to the monarch butterfly is the reduction of its habitat, as well as the shortage of tropical milkweed, plant where the butterfly nests and on which the caterpillar feeds. Meanwhile, in Mexico, the causes are deforestation and illegal logging in the hibernation sites. Furthermore, the greatest threat that the monarch butterfly currently faces is climate change.

In the Purépecha and Mazahua culture, it is believed that the arrival in late October of the butterflies to the El Rosario and Sierra Chincua sanctuaries, in Michoacán, represents the visit of the souls of the dead on the occasion of the celebrations of November 1st and 2nd.