Monday, January 12, 2009

Las Mariposas en Michoacán

Hi, we're currently on Isla de Margarita in Venezuela and it looks like we might have some reliable internet for a few days. We will try to catch ourselves up. We hope you had a happy New Year!

After departing Guanajuato we took a bus to Angangueo in Michoacán to visit the breeding grounds of the monarch butterfly (sorry Lala, we were careful). This was one of the most amazing things we saw on our trip through Mexico. Imagine spinning around in a circle and seeing nothing but butterflies all around you, up and down. Also imagine the sound made by thousands of fluttering butterly wings. It is difficult to capture this phenomena in a photograph because of the sheer number of butterflies present, however, here is out attempt. Below is an edited excerpt on the migration of Monarchs taken from Wikipidea.

Monarchs are especially noted for their lengthy annual migration. In North America they make massive southward migrations starting in August until the first frost. A northward migration takes place in the spring. Female monarchs deposit eggs for the next generation during these migrations. By the end of October, the population east of the Rocky Mountains migrates to the Sanctuary of the Mariposa Monarca Biosphere Reserve in the Mexican states of Michoacán and México. The western population overwinters in various sites in central, coastal and southern California, United States, notably in Pacific Grove, California and Santa Cruz, California.
The length of these journeys exceeds the normal lifespan of most monarchs, which is less than two months for butterflies born in early summer. The last generation of the summer enters into a non-reproductive phase known as
diapause and may live seven months or more. During diapause, butterflies fly to one of many overwintering sites. The generation that overwinters generally does not reproduce until it leaves the overwintering site sometime in February and March. It is thought that the overwinter population of those east of the Rockies may reach as far north as Texas and Oklahoma during the spring migration. It is the second, third and fourth generations that return to their northern locations in the United States and Canada in the spring. How the species manages to return to the same overwintering spots over a gap of several generations is still a subject of research; the flight patterns appear to be inherited, based on a combination of circadian rhythm and the position of the sun in the sky.

During our hike up to the sancturary we passed many crops hugging the mountainous terrain.

Our guide, 8-year-old Ricardo, who responded to our declines for assistance by singing us a song and guiding us anyway until we gave in.

Las Mariposas

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