Natural Reserves: Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary

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The Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary or the Monarch Biosphere Reserve is located northwest of Mexico City, between the State of Mexico and Michoacan.  Each year, millions of monarch butterflies fly from different areas of Canada and the U.S. to reach a warmer weather in the Mexican pine-oak forest.


The sanctuary is 56,000 hectares long and the monarchs only inhabit a small part of it. This amazing natural phenomenon turn the Mexican forest of an orange color and in such quantity that the trees branches are bent by the weight.

The life of a butterfly can change depending on the circumstances.  The generations born in spring and summer spend their lives up north and it shortens. These monarchs only live 4 to 5 weeks. Compared to the generations born in September or October whose life span increases from six to seven months. Fourteen colonies of monarchs migrate each year although the Sanctuary is only able to protect eight, it’s approximately 70% of the butterfly’s eastern population.

The fourth generation of monarchs in a year is the one that migrates south. The migration season starts the first days of October and it lasts until March when the temperature rises. That’s the time when the butterflies mate and then they return up to the northern territories.

The Sanctuary is in charge of maintaining the areas for this natural phenomenon. They try to prevent any threats in the forest, especially illegal logging which has a direct impact in the environment.

In addition, the number of visitors have increased in the last few years which means the infrastructure of the Sanctuary require internal controls to avoid damage to the ecosystem. It is important that all visitors know and follow the rules in order to have pleasant sighting and preserve the butterflies.


When you visit the Sanctuary listen to the guides and staff, don’t bring any audio device, use comfortable shoes and bring a warm jacket, don’t litter and most importantly: do not take butterflies dead or alive, it is strictly forbidden!

Beside the beautiful sight of the monarchs, you and your family can enjoy delicious food, hiking or even horseback riding.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Please enjoy yourself but never forget to take care of the monarch butterfly’s ecosystem.

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