Mexico Bound: Where the Monarchs Roam and Originate

Learning where monarchs migrate within North American may help save the species. Researchers are now looking at where overwintering monarch butterflies originate over multiple years. Although a large percentage of monarchs migrated to Mexico from the Midwest, their origins were spread throughout Canada and other parts of the United States. Conservation efforts now need to be focused on all of these areas. 

Since monarchs feed on milkweed and lay their eggs on the plants, milkweed is essential for their survival. Due to the eradication of milkweed over the last few decades, the number of monarchs has dropped significantly. While the Midwest area is a top priority, better collection and analysis of butterflies in overwintering grounds in Mexico is necessary. Additionally, better initiatives are needed to restore and conserve habitats across the species range. 

After analyzing the chemical fingerprint of more than 1,000 monarchs, researchers found that 12% of the insects came from the Northwestern U.S. and Canadian prairies, 17% in the north central states and Ontario, 15% in the northeastern states and the Canadian Maritimes, 11% in the south central United States, and 8% in the southeastern states. With the growing crisis of species endangerment, coordinated international initiatives must be put in place. 

If you want to do your part to help the monarchs, talk to your local roadside managers about mowing around their milkweed and consider planting milkweed native to your region in your garden. Not only will you enjoy watching the painted orange and black creatures, you will be helping to perpetuate the species. If everyone did this, we would see a positive impact long-term.