WWF-Telcel released the data on the yearly count of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico for the 2020-20121 season and unfortunately the population has decreased to 2.10 hectares (5.2 acres). This is 26% from last year’s count. You can access the announcement on the WWF website by clicking HERE and read a translation in English HERE.
Today, January 21, 2021, at 9:00 A.M., Osmar Ramírez Vázquez, a student of Dr. Isabel Ramírez, one of our board members, captured this amazing video of monarchs roosting and flying about in the Cerro Pelón colony.
Monarch Butterfly Fund Board members and partners will provide first-hand accounts of the return of monarchs to the Mexico wintering sites each year, and the people who study and work to save them in this Zoom webinar on
Jan 27, 2021 at 6:30 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Ernest Williams, MBF Board Member and Professor of Biology Emeritus at Hamilton College will describe how the forest protects the overwintering monarchs. Alfonso Alonso, MBF Board Member and Conservation Biologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute will describe how monarchs are counted at the Mexico wintering sites. Guadalupe Del Rio, President of the conservation organization Alternare, will describe how her organization works with local communities on sustainable development and forest conservation. Hosted by MBF Board members, this webinar will be an interesting and hopeful (but realistic) account of an amazing insect and the people who care about them.
We hope to see you there!
As we reported previously, monarchs started to arrive on Mexico on late October and were seen in large groups flying around the sanctuaries and feeding in neighboring agricultural fields. By mid-November, the colonies were already established and on the last weekend of November Sierra Chincua and El Rosario sanctuaries were open to tourism. Cerro Pelón and La Mesa will not open this season.
Throughout October, personnel from the Health and Tourism Ministries, along with the Reserve’s Directorship, trained the different groups that guide visitors to avoid spreading Covid-19. Additional to the general health rules (mask-wearing, hand-sanitizing and physical distancing), during these season, small children and elder people will not be allowed to enter. Large groups and buses will only be allowed access with an appointment and during weekdays, weekends will be set for small groups and families.
This past week board member Dr. Isabel Ramirez was in the monarch overwintering areas and spotted some monarchs! She visited the Sierra Chincua and Cerro Pelón sites and reported seeing thousands flying around the very same spots where they established their colonies last season. People around the area started to see monarchs by mid-October and were surprised with this early arrival. Monarchs were feeding everywhere! One of the most amazing congregation was on a Tepozan tree (Buddleja cordata) in a corn parcel at Ejido Cresencio Morales. We still don’t know if the sanctuaries will be open to tourists this season but we’ll let you know a soon as we recieve any information. Below some photos of the recently arrived monarchs.
Monarchs are about to arrive in Mexico but this overwintering season things are going to be different. For one, the day of the dead is going to be celebrated virtually, but most importantly there will be new health protocols (article in Spanish here) due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the visits are outdoors the risk of contagion is not too high but nonetheless certain restrictions will be applied. Local tourists, national and international will be required to wear a mask, physically distance, have their temperature taken before entering the sites and will be limited to 20 people at a time. So far, authorities have indicated that the Sierra Chincua and El Rosario sanctuaries will be open under this new protocol, but Cerro Pelón will be closed. We can only hope for the best as we keep on being vigilant of the pandemic and follow the guidelines to stay safe and healthy.