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Researchers are still investigating what directional aids monarchs use to find their overwintering location. It appears to be a combination of directional aids such as the magnetic pull of the earth and the position of the sun among others, not one in particular.

Monarchs cluster together to stay warm. Tens of thousands of monarchs can cluster on a single tree. Although monarchs alone weigh less than a gram, tens of thousands of them weigh a lot. Oyamel trees are generally able to support the clustering butterflies, but sometimes branches break.

Conservation of overwintering habitat is very important to the survival of monarchs. The Mexican Government recognized the importance of oyamel forests to monarch butterflies and created the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in 1986.

Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve

Monarchs living west of the Rocky Mountain range in North America overwinter in California along the Pacific coast near Santa Cruz and San Diego. Here microclimatic conditions are very similar to that in central Mexico. Monarchs roost in eucalyptus, Monterey pines, and Monterey cypresses in California.

Eastern North American monarchs fly south using several flyways then merge into a single flyway in Central Texas. It is truly amazing that these monarchs know the way to the overwintering sites even though this migrating generation has never before been to Mexico!

Monarch Butterfly Fall Migration Patterns. Base map source: USGS National Atlas.

Monarchs only travel during the day and need to find a roost at night. Monarchs gather close together during the cool autumn evenings. Roost sites are important to the monarch migration. Many of these locations are used year after year. 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.

Monarchs at sunrise on wild black cherry () tree roost. Photo by Denise Gibbs.

Monarchs basking at sunrise before taking flight from a bayberry () thicket roost site. Photo by Denise Gibbs.

Monarchs traveling south congregate on peninsulas. The shape of the peninsula funnels the migrating butterflies. At its tip, the monarchs find the shortest distance across open water. They congregate along the shore to wait for a gentle breeze to help them across.

Monarchs bask just after sunrise on a groundsel-tree () where they roosted for the night, at the edge of Oyster Bay. Photo by Denise Gibbs.

Photo by Dick Walton, Jambu Wildflower Red Sandals LpzlV53C49

As warm temperatures and lengthening days arrive, the migratory generation of monarchs finishes the development they halted prior to their migration. They become reproductive, breed and lay the eggs of the new generation. This starts the northern journey back to North America. Unlike the generation before them, who made a one-generation journey south, successive generations make the journey north.

King of Kings

Trade Reform

Kanem Bornu

Land of Ngazargamu

Sayfawa Dynasty

Aluma's Reforms

House of Kanem

Fixed Military Camps

The Council of Clan Heads

Duties on Sahara Trade

Born Emmy Band Wedge Slide Sandals l91n9k

Katoch Lineage

Riches of the Kangra Valley

Control of the Hill Forts

Strengthen the Mountain Trade:

Pahari Painting

Tigers of the Himalayas


Mehmet Bey's Firman

Karamanid Cavalry

Seize the Opportunity

Karamanid Architecture

Home of the Whirling Dervishes

True Heirs of the Seljuk Empire


Steppe Tolerance

Tribal Legacy

Warrior Society

Legacy of the Great Horde

Steppe Warfare

Settle Down

End Western Domination


Horde Legacy

Deserts of Khiva

Oasis of Merv

Djuma Mosque

Amu Darya

Ichan Qal'a


Preah Ko Preah Keo

Theravada Buddhism

Cham Migration

European Mercenaries

Restoration of Angkor

A Modern Khmer Navy


Rein in the Turko-Mongol Emirs

Princely Appanages

Dynastic Chronicles

Irrigation Canals

Great Sheiks of Khorasan

Protect the Caravan Routes


Blessings of Tohil

Ilo'kab traditions

Wealth of the Tamub

The Ball Game


K'iq'ab's Vengeance

Popol Vuh

Mother of All Cities

Heritage Of The Rus'

Fending Off The Invaders


Center Of Orthodox Church

Support Local Traders

One To Rule Them All


Distinguished Family

Land of Fire

Aso Shrine

Fortify the Domain

Religious Coexistence

Three Chief Retainers

Central Stronghold


Lords Deputy