The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Central Mexico may be the most amazing wildlife reserve on the planet, at least from an entymologyst’s point of view. This area, which was not fully appreciated until just a few decades ago, is the primary destination for North America’s migrating butterflies, primarily the Monarch Butterfly. It is estimated that nearly a billion of the beautiful insects spend at least some of each year here.
Butterfly migrations have been recognized in North America for many years, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that scientists figured out where they were going. The vast majority of butterflies traveling from areas east of the Rocky Mountains made there annual trip down to a few nesting areas in sout-central Mexico. These nesting sites became protected reserves in 1980. In 2008 it was the first such insect reserve to be recognized as a world heritage site.
The monarch reserve is not just about butterflies. The area does boast White Tailed Deer and Coyote as well as other, smaller mammals and many species of birds. But the big star here is the Monarch Butterfly. There are fourteen major colonies here, the largest number of major colonies in North America. During the winter, anywhere from a hundred million to a billion monarchs nest here. Five of these colonies are open to the public under careful supervision.
The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve is a relatively small 560 square km, and the butterflies themselves take up a relatively small part of this space. Located eighty miles west of Mexico City, the reserve is both accessible and incredibly popular. It is open year-round. As of this writing no visitor information was available. Web: www.visitmexico.com/en/michoacan-where-monarch-butterflies-migrate (official tourism website of Mexico).