Mariposa means butterfly in Spanish.
My friend, Jamie, and I went to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix to see the Monarch exhibit. We each took hundreds of photos and had a great time.
Unlike the butterflies that are in the exhibit in the spring, the Mariposa Monarch is not a “friendly” butterfly. They get nervous when you get too close and they don’t seem to like the click or flash of the camera. Monarchs also tend to land on the ground a lot, so you have to be careful of each step that you take.
Jamie and I spent a good hour in the butterfly house observing these fascinating creatures and trying to capture a moment where they actually were still. They love the colorful flowers in the exhibit and flit from one to another until they think they’re going to be left alone!
Every fall, by instinct alone, the Monarch butterflies go to the same mountains that their ancestors left the previous spring. Somehow, they find a place in Mexico that they’ve never seen before. Monarchs only fly during the day and at night you might see a handful, or even hundreds of them roosting in trees or on a bridge!
Each winter, the entire eastern population of monarch butterflies in Mexico clusters together on only 10-12 volcanic mountains, in large colonies estimated to contain millions of individuals. Significantly, an estimated 80% of the butterflies concentrate each year in only four core colonies.
All of the colonies are in Mexico’s Transvolcanic Belt, and most of these colonies are spread along an arc from the western face of the volcano “Nevado de Toluca” to the northeastern extreme of the state of Michoacan. The four core sites–El Rosario, Sierra Chincua, Chivati-Huacal and Cerro Pelon–are located in the center of the arc, near Angangueo.
You can read more about the Monarchs’ amazing journey here: