Mystique of the monarch: Butterfly’s migratory life inspires wonder, scientific inquiry

It was a chilly February morning in 2020 when Clemson, South Carolina, resident Heyward Douglass laid eyes on the legendary monarch butterfly wintering grounds, first discovered only 45 years before. Oyamel fir trees covered the south-facing slopes of the Neovolcanic Mountains west of Mexico City, and millions of monarch butterflies covered the fir trees, 8,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level.

The Naturalist's Corner: A tale of two monarchs

I was on the Blue Ridge Parkway last weekend scouting for an upcoming Alarka Expeditions trip, “Migration Celebration” which will be on Oct. 4. Monarch butterflies will be one of the migrants we will be celebrating. As I was nosing around at my first stop the other day a couple of monarchs drifted by. I stopped and began to watch — there was a steady stream of monarchs cruising by.

Monarchs to Mexico

natcornMonarch butterflies, like orange autumn leaves filling the skies, have been winging it to Mexico for the last month or so. Peak migration for the mountains of Western North Carolina is from mid- to late September through early to mid-October. 

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