Thousands of monarch butterflies travel from Canada to one of the pine forests in central Mexico, their place for hibernation. They fly at an altitude of 3,000 metres.
They travel 4,000 kilometres from Canada to North America, and from other countries, where they face extinction.
They advance at a speed of between 75 and 130 km/day during migration, flapping their wings between 300 and 720 times per minute.
Eduardo Rendon, coordinator of WWF’s monarch butterfly observation project in Mexico “The butterflies that come to Mexico to hibernate come from southern Canada, northern and central United States. It is a specific generation, which is why we call it the “Methuselah generation.” These butterflies spend a month and a half migrating, five months here on their hibernation site. The survivors then returned to the southern United States.”
“They (butterflies) don’t respect borders, that’s how we humans should not be subject to borders and all these things that happen…wanting to move from one place to another that we conventionally call a country.”
Monarch butterflies live in Canada and the United States between April and August. And to survive the winter, millions of them migrate to Mexico in September-October, where they stay from November to March. In February and March, they mate before returning to North America.
Jose Humberto Garcia, member of the local committee of the monarch butterfly sanctuary says
“The butterfly is an insect that, despite its apparent fragility, unites not only Mexicans, but all countries.”
Butterflies live between 4 and 5 weeks, but the “Methuselah generation” is a particular generation of Monarchs which can live between 7 and 8 months to complete their migration-hibernation-reproduction-return cycle.
The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve covers 56,259 hectares on the border between Michoacan States and the Federal District of Mexico City, about 100 km north of Mexico City. Since 2008, it has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.