University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Graduate Student Trip: Monarch Migration Sites in Mexico

by Andy Joseph | Photos by Susan Moser and Andy Joseph

In January 2007, members of the University of Kentucky Department of Entomology joined students and researchers from the University of Arkansas, Purdue University, and the Illinois Natural History Survey on a trip to remote locations in Mexico to view populations of overwintering monarch butterflies.

 

Monarch swarms in Mexico

 

Monarchs from as far north as Ontario migrate southward each fall to nine mountainous sites in Mexico.  The butterflies congregate in fir trees, taking flight on warm afternoons in search of water and nutrients.  In early spring, the surviving butterflies begin the journey north.

 

Monacrhs roosting in fir trees in Mexico

 

University of Kentucky students (Rebecca Trout, Andy Joseph, Susan Moser, and Craig Stillwell) and faculty (Drs. John Obrycki and Charles Fox) visited the two largest monarch migration sites and were enveloped in thousands of monarch butterflies.

 

Group photo: UK Entomology visits monarch migration sites in Mexico