The Challenge


Preserving the monarch butterfly and their spectacular migration will require conservation actions that maintain healthy ecosystems and sustainable communities...

A Spectacular Migration in Peril

fall migration mapEach fall, the monarch butterfly, instantly recognized and beloved by children and adults throughout North America, travels thousands of miles to 12 mountaintops in central México to spend the winter from November to March. This is one of the most spectacular migrations carried out by an insect. And yet, the monarch’s migration is in peril. Habitat loss at the monarch’s winter home in Mexico threatens the survival of this amazing migration.

Survival Depends on a Unique Winter Habitat

The overwintering environment in Mexico is a ruggedly mountainous terrain, remote, and densely forested by stately pine trees and oyamel firs. Monarchs cluster in pendulous masses, occasionally flying to drink from nearby streams. The oyamel thrives at the high altitudes (over 10,000 feet), with a number of pine species growing further down the slopes. Below the mountain tops, the once-forested lands have been cleared over the decades for subsistence agriculture, and for wood and timber for domestic use by the region’s poor residents. These vital forests are also the upper peaks of the watershed that provides drinking water for Mexico City and serve as an important carbon sink and oxygen generator.

The Monarch Reserve (Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve)

Map of Mexico with the preserve highlightedThe Reserve, designated by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site, was created to protect the monarch colonies’ largest and most frequently established overwintering sites. No logging is permitted within the core zone of the Reserve, and only managed cutting is allowed in the buffer zone. However, illegal logging for commercial gain occurs in both areas. Governmental patrols strive to reduce illegal logging, but this is difficult given the isolation, the terrain, the complex local governance, and the economic appeal of timber. Irresponsible tree removal in the core and buffer zones creates ‘holes in the blanket’ subjecting the monarchs to a freezing death during occasional fierce winter storms, such as the mass destruction that occurred in January 2002 that killed a quarter of a billion monarchs.

Larva (Caterpillars) Photo by Karen Oberhauser

Milkweed- Photo by Karen Oberhauser

Fall Migration

Spring and Summer Migration

Monarchs Nectaring

Overwintering Monarchs

Monarcca Descansando Vico

Main Reserve - Orientation Map

Helicopter View of Rosario Colony

A View of the Volcanic Peaks

Chincua Aerial

The Refuge Location in Mexico

Massive Clusters of Monarch Butterflies

Rivers of Monarchs

Exploding Cluster

Oyamel Branch Clusters

StormJan2002_MortalityClose.jpg

Col-Chincua(4)

Chapel Crescencio Morales.JPG

Burn Chincua

Campanio Chincua

Campesinos

Cerro Antenas from Donaciano Ojeda

cerro cacicque from top of pelon

Cerro Cacique from Curungueo

Cerro Pelon from Donaciano Ojeda

Community Carpinteros

Community Carpinters b

Deforested Cresencio Morales from Donaciano Ojeda

Deforested Cresencio Morales from Donaciano Ojeda

el paso forest

el paso forest2

elpasofores3

elpasoforest

hand with peas

Iglesia Chincua

Iglesia Ejido Chincua

Img_0066.jpg

Img_0233.jpg

Irrigation Water Donaciano Ojeda.JPG

Img_0280

logging pelon

logging pelon2

logging pelon3

logging pelon4

logging pelon5

monarca_isabel

monarcas.jpg

Mountain Crescencio Morales

Ocampo Cuna de la Mariposa Monarca

pea farming in crescencio morales.JPG

Pine Seedlings Donaciano OjdeaB

Pine seedlings Donaciano Ojeda

Poster PROFEPA

Eggs on New Milkweed in Maryland

Larva (Caterpillars) Photo by Karen Oberhauser
Milkweed- Photo by Karen Oberhauser
Fall Migration
Spring and Summer Migration
Monarchs Nectaring
Overwintering Monarchs
Monarcca Descansando Vico
Main Reserve - Orientation Map
Helicopter View of Rosario Colony
A View of the Volcanic Peaks
Chincua Aerial
The Refuge Location in Mexico
Massive Clusters of Monarch Butterflies
Rivers of Monarchs
Exploding Cluster
Oyamel Branch Clusters
StormJan2002_MortalityClose.jpg
Col-Chincua(4)
Chapel Crescencio Morales.JPG
Burn Chincua
Campanio Chincua
Campesinos
Cerro Antenas from Donaciano Ojeda
cerro cacicque from top of pelon
Cerro Cacique from Curungueo
Cerro Pelon from Donaciano Ojeda
Community Carpinteros
Community Carpinters b
Deforested Cresencio Morales from Donaciano Ojeda
Deforested Cresencio Morales from Donaciano Ojeda
el paso forest
el paso forest2
elpasofores3
elpasoforest
hand with peas
Iglesia Chincua
Iglesia Ejido Chincua
Img_0066.jpg
Img_0233.jpg
Irrigation Water Donaciano Ojeda.JPG
Img_0280
logging pelon
logging pelon2
logging pelon3
logging pelon4
logging pelon5
monarca_isabel
monarcas.jpg
Mountain Crescencio Morales
Ocampo Cuna de la Mariposa Monarca
pea farming in crescencio morales.JPG
Pine Seedlings Donaciano OjdeaB
Pine seedlings Donaciano Ojeda
Poster PROFEPA
Eggs on New Milkweed in Maryland

logging pelon5
logging pelon
Main Reserve - Orientation Map
Ocampo Cuna de la Mariposa Monarca
el paso forest2
Img_0066.jpg
Deforested Cresencio Morales from Donaciano Ojeda
Spring and Summer Migration
Irrigation Water Donaciano Ojeda.JPG
elpasoforest
Cerro Pelon from Donaciano Ojeda
Oyamel Branch Clusters
StormJan2002_MortalityClose.jpg
pea farming in crescencio morales.JPG
hand with peas
logging pelon2
logging pelon3
Img_0280
Cerro Antenas from Donaciano Ojeda
monarca_isabel
Campesinos
Chapel Crescencio Morales.JPG
Col-Chincua(4)
Poster PROFEPA
A View of the Volcanic Peaks
Massive Clusters of Monarch Butterflies
el paso forest
Img_0233.jpg
Helicopter View of Rosario Colony
Campanio Chincua
Monarcca Descansando Vico
cerro cacicque from top of pelon
Overwintering Monarchs
Community Carpinters b
logging pelon4
Rivers of Monarchs
Exploding Cluster
Iglesia Ejido Chincua
Eggs on New Milkweed in Maryland
Community Carpinteros
Chincua Aerial
Larva (Caterpillars) Photo by Karen Oberhauser
Mountain Crescencio Morales
Iglesia Chincua
Burn Chincua
monarcas.jpg
Milkweed- Photo by Karen Oberhauser
Monarchs Nectaring
Cerro Cacique from Curungueo
Pine seedlings Donaciano Ojeda
elpasofores3
The Refuge Location in Mexico
Fall Migration
Pine Seedlings Donaciano OjdeaB
Deforested Cresencio Morales from Donaciano Ojeda