Feb 25, 2008

Monarch Butterflies

This weekend our team took a long awaited trip. We have been planning the trip for months now. We went to a Monarch Butterfly sanctuary. All Monarch butterflies migrate for the winter months. The Monarch butterflies that live in the United states migrate to a few main areas. The western butteflies migrate to the California coastal areas. The population of the Rocky Mountain area migrates to Michoacan, Mexico. It is estimated that hudreds of million Monarchs come to this area.

It is about a 5 hour drive from our house to the sanctuary. The team went to a nearby city and we stayed the night there on Friday. Saturday we got up and headed to the sanctuary. There are two sanctuaries and we chose the one where we had been told there were horses to ride. The parking lot is a good hour walk (uphill) from the sanctuary. When we first got there they tried selling us walking sticks. We told them we wouldn't need them because we were planning on ridding horses. They quickly informed us that there no longer are horses, it was too dangerous so they no longer have that service. So, we bought some walking sticks and headed up the mountain - along with 1- one and a half year old, 3 two year olds, 3 six year olds and 4 "teenagers" or there abouts. It was a pretty ugly walk up the mountain but the kids all did great and were troopers. When we got to the top of the mountain there was a place they called the Rabit valley. It was a flat open area where there were a lot of butterflies. There were some man made watering areas where the butterflies were drinking from.

We thought we had arrived to the main area but we heard a tour guide telling his group "you haven't seen anything yet!" so we followed his instructions and continued down a path. About 15 minutes later we arrived at what is called the "nucleus". Here there were millions of butterflies. The trees off in the distance looked orange because of the covering of butterflies. It was amazing.

We learned some interesting facts while at the sanctuary (you can also read about them on wipedia). The Monarch butterflies expected life span is about a month. When you do the math you quickly realize that the same butterflies never return to their homeland. The butterflies will die before getting to return. When you really think about it, it is amazing because they return to the same place although they had never been there.
We also learned a little bit about their reproduction. Their courtship is short and simply involves the male butterfly pursuing the female in flight. When they land they reproduce. Well, we just happened to go at the peak of reproduction season. Unfortunatelly we learned about their reproduction first hand. While taking pictures two butterflies landed on my shoulder. And it just so happens that they landed on my shoulder for the purpose of reproducing! It was a little awkward as everyone started taking pictures of me and the butterflies on my shoulder.
Like I said there are many more interesting facts on wipedia.
Here are a few more pictures I thought you might enjoy.
Once again anyone is welcome to come visit us and we will gladly take you to see the butterflies. Just note that they are only here from October until March.


Code Rader said...

I remember in College in Oklahoma the Monarchs stopped by one year in their migration. It was amazing. They were everywhere. I can remember the fields being covered in them.

Within a year of that we had a migration of ladybugs too. Now that was weird. Not quite as beautiful. Actually they got to be annoying.

Anyway, thanks for the wonderful pictures.

God bless,


That is SO cool. Wish I could see it!

Shane Coffman said...

That's fascinating!

I remember a plague of crickets at an OSU football game in about 1999...millions of them, and not nearly as pretty as butterflies...
I assume they migrated from Norman...

Mike & Lucy said...

No picture of you with the mating butterflies on your shoulders? Shame. But I loved the pictures. They were great. It was good to see your smiling face too!
I am glad you all were able to have a team trip and get out of the city. What a necessary thing! We love you.