The Northern Wanderer Returns

This month we should expect the migration of the king of all butterflies, the Monarch. This Northern Wanderer has been in hibernation for the past three to four months and it’s now warm enough to return home.


(Vegetation of Mexico. Credit:

The Monarch butterflies migrate each fall to a region in Mexico that is about 73 miles wide. This astonishingly small location in the Oyamel [o-ee-ya-mel] forest provides the monarch’s a winter habitat ideal for their survival. These butterflies form massive colonies, groupings of tens of millions among the fir trees. These tightly clustered groups, approximately 15,000 butterflies on a single branch, can be an overwhelming sight to witness.

Mmaeckle from the The San Antonio Express-News, published an article titled, Here they come, right on time! Monarch butterflies arrive in San Antonio. The article mentions multiple sightings of “hearty orange-and-black butterflies” all over the state of Texas.

“The massive leaving is occurring right now!” wrote Journey North correspondent Estela Romero from Morelia, Mexico, on March 13, as millions of butterflies fled their roosts. “Monarchs are clouding our town, flying by the towers of our downtown churches in a majestic performance as if dancing to music!”

On their journey home they begin to search for a plant called milkweed. Monarchs lay their eggs underneath the leaves of this particular plant. Once the larvae hatch, the milkweed provides all the vitamins needed for the larvae to grow. One day the caterpillar will transform itself into a beautiful butterfly and begin its 2,000+ mile migration.

(Credit: YouTube)

Learn more about the monarch’s migration and winter habitat. Use your resources, books and online research, to examine the following points:

  • Why do monarchs form their colonies in trees?
  • How might living in a massive insect colony help a monarch survive?
  • In the Oyamel forest, what conditions make the monarch’s overwintering habitat ideal for survival?

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10 replies

  1. Colonies in trees provides the monarchs winter habitat ideal for survival.

  2. Living in a massive insect colony helps monarchs survive because their prey would less likely go after them. Becky.

  3. They fly and flutter by each day. Before dark,they glide to the trees and huddle in bunches, creating lots of beautiful branches as they nuzzle together for warmth. Today, scientists do not know what helps them to know we’re they are going to in Mexico’s forest.

  4. 1. Monarch butterflies colonize trees because if they live on ground, anyone can accidentally step on them. Trees also provide safety for the monarch butterflies.
    2. They warn one another and are ready for danger.
    3. So they can escape the cold winters in California and they hibernate in fall.


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