Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterflies, Piedra Herrada Butterfly Sanctuary, Mexico

“Being inside a kaleidoscope!”

That is how I describe the feeling of standing amongst millions and millions of butterflies in the sanctuaries outside of Mexico City during the great migration. You can even hear the sound of their wings beating. Having experienced Natural Habitat’s monarch butterfly adventure, I wanted my family to understand a bit more about this life-changing encounter.  So, we did the next best thing to taking a trip to Mexico: we went to the IMAX 3D movie “Flight of the Butterflies”!  The film has some amazing footage of the epic butterfly migration, including some great macro-shots of these creatures in flight.  Chronicling the work of Dr. Fred Urquhart over a period of 40 years, viewers learn about the extensive research that led to the discovery of the butterfly migration route each season. The over-wintering mountaintops in central Mexico were only discovered in 1975, after thousands of volunteers throughout North America were able to tag butterflies to track their flight pattern. Some of the tags found in Mexico come from places as far away as Eastern Canada, thousands of miles away!

Monarch Butterfly Migration

Monarch butterflies, El Rosario Butterfly Sanctuary, Mexico

As we learned in the film, the butterflies have formidable challenges beyond just a long journey – Illegal logging in these forested areas of Mexico has only recently come to a halt due to the hard work of local, national, and international non-profits.  Chemicals used in agriculture as well as climate change impacts are harming these sensitive populations.

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch butterflies, Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary, Mexico

Fortunately, these butterflies are flourishing, thanks largely to carefully executed ecotourism.  This is a place where your tourist dollars have a big impact in preserving these creatures and one of the greatest migrations on the planet.  Very few people ever have the opportunity to enjoy this special corner of Mexico.  But, if you can’t get there, the next best thing is to see this movie – it will take your breath away.

Wendy Klausner, Adventure Specialist, Natural Habitat Adventures