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News from Mexico: Trip Report from Monarchs Across Georgia

Thanks to Susan Meyers and Kim Baily of "Monarchs Across Georgia" for sending this report directly from Mexico. They are leading a trip for teachers and visited two monarch sanctuaries this week, El Rosario and Sierra Chincua.

As you read:

  • Look carefully for words that describe the monarch's habitat.
  • Also look for details about the butterflies' behavior.

    These are important clues about how monarchs survive the winter in Mexico.

Contributed by Susan Meyers and Kim Bailey
Monarchs Across Georgia

On Tuesday February 3, the Monarchs Across Georgia group traveled to Sierra Chincua. Arriving late in the afternoon, we rented horses to speed our trek up the mountainside. Fifty minutes on horseback on dusty, rocky trails brought us to within twenty minutes of the colony. We dismounted and walked down a steep slope to the viewing place overlooking a valley. Our elevation was 10,311 feet and our coordinates were 19.6743 North, -100.30273 West. (See this location in the Sierra Chincua sanctuary on Google Maps.)

We counted sixty to seventy trees that were covered with monarchs. The oyamel and pine trees were dense with butterflies. Monarchs were also noted on the trunks of some broadleaf trees. We viewed the butterflies from 4:30 until 5:10 in the afternoon. During this time the majority of monarchs were roosting in the trees. Very few were spotted flying. We also noticed several shivering on the ground. No mating was observed. The sky was overcast, the temperature was quite cold, and a light sprinkle fell on us as we left the site.

On Wednesday February 4, we traveled through Ocampo to El Rosario. We walked for an hour up the steps, through the meadow, and into the forest. Monarchs were first spotted flying along the trail and puddling at small creek. A little further up the trail the monarch-covered trees came into view. It was impossible to estimate the number of trees covered but it was certainly many more than seen at Chincua the day before. All of the trees in this area were oyamels. Our elevation was 10,617 feet and our coordinates were 19.6001 North, -100.2638 West. (See this location in the El Rosario sanctuary on Google Maps.) The day was sunny but occasionally clouds would drift over and darken the sky. Although there were monarchs were flying continuously, many more took to the skies when the clouds temporarily blocked the sun. Although there was much more activity at this site, no mating was seen. Observations were made from 2:15 until 3:15 PM.

Susan Meyers at Cerro Pelon