Adventures In Mexico #27 – Monarch Butterfly Warning Signs

Monarch Butterfly Warning Signs

Monarch Butterfly Warning Signs

By Malcolm Callister

In Canada, we have roads warning signs for Moose, for Canada geese, and even turtles. Linda and I were in Mexico driving south to our first RV Park in Mexico. It was September. During our drive through the mountains south of Monterey, we saw many road signs that clearly warned drivers about this being the route of the Monarch butterfly migration. Apparently, the Monarch Butterfly migrates south from Canada, USA, and Mexico, in November/December and North in March/April. Cute, I thought but hardly worth that many road signs. A Monarch Butterfly cannot be dangerous? How wrong I was.

Mike and Mary Story

Just before Christmas, we met Mike and Mary at the local gringo morning hangout, the “Black Coffee” in San Antonio Mexico. They had driven the same route down as we had.
“That was a crazy drive.” Said Mike over coffee. “I don’t want to have to do that drive again.”
Mary added with a shiver. “Millions of butterflies were flying in a dark snake-like cloud at the side of the highway. It was a long heaving fog of insects. Mike drove the car slowly because we had seen what happens when they cross the path of the traffic. Your wipers just can’t keep up. They leave a greasy film over the window and get stuck under the wipers; it was difficult to see.”
"That was the good part," Mike added. "Cars that got caught in the dense center of the cloud started to overheat because their radiators got blocked.”
Smiling, Mary commented, “It also gave an economic boost to the area. Each gas station had cleaning crews ready to wash radiator’s, engine compartments and windows.”

El Rosario Butterfly Sanctuary

A visit to the El Rosario Butterfly Sanctuary near Morelia was a safe butterfly encounter if you discount the crazy house ride up the last 2000 ft of the mountainside to the sanctuary itself from the carpark. The Monarch Butterfly hibernates in the millions on a few acres of pine forest at an elevation 10000 ft. They huddle together like lager bunches of grapes. Because you only see the outside tips of their wings, these bunches are a dark gray in color, not the vibrant color we expect from Monarchs in flight.
The day we were there in late March, it was cloudy and cold. Very few butterflies took exercise fights. Our guide at the sanctuary, Maria, told us, "on sunny days we sometimes see thousands of butterflies chasing the sunbeams. The butterflies seek exercise and warmth from the sun before going back to their colony. One day soon they will all leave over two days, an incredible sight.”

The Migrations

In the fall the arrival of the Monarchs takes place over two months, but the return start is condensed into a few days. Millions of butterflies moving to their summer breeding grounds is a road hazard.
Do not ignore the road signs.

Mexican Road Signs to Look For:

“Obedezca las señales” (Obey the signs)
“Mariposa Monarca union de tres Naciones” (Monarch Butterfly Union of three nations)
“Ruta de la Mariposa Monarca” (Route of the Monarch Butterfly)
“60 km/h En Presencia de Mariposa” (60 km/ h In the Presence of the Butterfly)

M&L Tip of the Week:

“Obedezca las señales” (Obey the signs)