Head down to the Lamar area ASAP to see these winged beauties before they continue to Mexico.
What's orange, black, and a breathtaking natural wonder? Monarch butterflies!
The beautiful insects are in the midst of their annual migration south to Mexico, and Colorado is right in their flight path. They usually stop over in the southeast part of the state during the fall to take a break on the 3,000-mile migration south.
Right now, they have been spotted in Lamar and at the John Martin Reservoir State Park. Lamar was named as the one and only "Monarch City USA" in Colorado, and if you head down there soon, you can see why. There is no way to tell how long they will be there, as a good north wind could spur them to continue their journey. Check out the below video of monarchs at John Martin Reservoir, courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. If you want to make a trip down but want to check where they are, give a call to John Martin Reservoir and a ranger may be able to get you a status update.
Millions of butterflies make the journey to Mexico every fall. If you are wondering how they get that far on those tiny, beautiful wings, that's a great question. According to the U.S. Forest Service, air currents and thermals provide the needed support as they glide along. They travel in colonies that number in the tens of thousands during the day and huddle together in the trees to stay warm at night. If you happen to visit southeast Colorado closer to evening hours, look to the trees to see the monarchs clustering.
"Roost sites are important to the monarch migration. Many of these locations are used year after year," says USFS. "Often pine, fir, and cedar trees are chosen for roosting. These trees have thick canopies that moderate the temperature and humidity at the roost site. In the mornings, monarchs bask in the sunlight to warm themselves."
The monarchs that travel through Colorado are usually coming from Canada and will end up taking a single flyway into Mexico via central Texas. They should arrive in Mexico sometime in November. Monarchs on the West Coast generally migrate south to California during the fall. No individual butterfly will make the full round trip from Mexico to their summer grounds and back; in fact, up to four generations are involved in one annual cycle.
You can follow the migration progress on this cool migration map provided by JourneyNorth.org.
Have you seen the migration? Share your photos with us in the comments below!