The Monarch migration is a phenomenon that has baffled scientists and been a source of awe and wonder for butterfly lovers. What is it that astounds us about the Monarch migration? Is it the fact that a delicate butterfly can fly 2,000 – 2,500 miles to reach the Sierra Mountains in Mexico or how they cling to the Oyamel trees by the millions? While the Monarch is not endangered, they have suffered great losses due to loss of habitat, pesticides, weather, and logging. I posed questions to Sun Butler, Farm Educator at Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, about his eye-witness experience of the Monarch migration in North Carolina and his experience of the shifting Monarch route.
Eye Witness Account from Sun Butler,
Farm Educator at Inter-Faith Food Shuttle
Q: What is the location of migration you observed?
A: “Topsail Beach is where we saw the migration every year until 2,000. I have also seen them along the Appalachian Divide.”
Q: What were the months of this occurrence? What was the length of time when the Monarchs passed by?
A: “September - October. The migration lasted about two weeks.”
Q: What was this experience like for you?
A: “Magical and deeply spiritual. The Monarchs fly down the beach one by one, sometimes stopping to land on us to lick salt off of our skin as we sunbathed or came out of the water.”
Q: At what point did the Monarch numbers going through Topsail Beach begin to decline or stop altogether?
A: “The year 2000”
Q: What were your feelings with this loss?
A: “Incredibly sad. I am 56. I have enjoyed Monarchs all of my life but now I only see a few every year.”
Information from Elizabeth Mann’s research
Where can you view the Monarch Migration in North Carolina?
Two popular sites for viewing are on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Cherry Cove Overlook just south of Mount Pisgah at milepost 415.7 and Doughton Park at Buff Mountain between mileposts 238.5 & 244.7. (Source: http://www.theblueridgehighlander.com/natures-pilgrimage-the-monarch/index.php )
From the middle of September and continuing for several weeks, the monarchs make their way through the Great Smoky Mountains at Wagon Road Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway about 35 minutes south of Asheville. (Source: http://www.exploreasheville.com/seasonal-fun/fall/activities-and-excursions/chasing-the-monarch/)
Explore why the Monarch migration could become endangered.
To learn more about butterfly life cycles along with how you can start raising your own butterflies you can purchase my book. It will teach you about 10 different North America butterflies with colorful photos and my personal experiences of raising them. I also include different butterfly conservatories and gardens I’ve toured in the United States. It is a great resource for teachers and loved by adults as well. https://www.createspace.com/4083202
Also, watch this video I made of how to harvest milkweed seeds so you can plant them and help the Monarch butterfly!