The Magic of
Monarch Butterfly Migration

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Imagine taking a long trip, all by yourself, to a place you have never been before. Imagine traveling for two months without a suitcase or even a map! Do you think you would survive? Monarch butterflies do this every fall when they migrate to Mexico. They begin their migration right after they are born. They travel without help from their brothers, sisters, or even their parents!

Monarchs go to the very same place every year. As if by magic, they find a special mountainous region deep in central Mexico. The monarch's winter home is shown in yellow on the map. (Click on map to enlarge.) The butterflies travel south from across eastern Canada and the United States. They come from the entire region shown in red on the map. The mountains in Mexico provide the perfect habitat for monarchs to survive all winter, from November to March.

Every year, the monarchs go to the same twelve mountaintops. The special mountains are about 70 miles west of Mexico City. How do the butterflies find the same mountains if they've never been there before? Nobody knows! The monarch butterfly's migration to Mexico is one of the most magical events in nature.

You can help track the monarch's migration! Hundreds of children in Canada, the United States, and Mexico watch for migrating monarchs. Using the Internet, the children report migrating butterflies when they see them. The students submit their sightings to the Journey North website. Together, the students track the monarch's trip all the way to Mexico and back. You can join the fun! For information about how to track the monarch's migration with Journey North see:

  • How to track FALL migration
  • How to track SPRING migration