January 1, 2022
Butterfly chaser: how Mexico’s monarchs helped an expat find a new life
About a decade ago, American Ellen Sharp tagged along with a writer friend to central Mexico. Little did she know that this would change her life. When she could not accompany her friend on an interview, she decided to take one of the tours available in eastern Michoacán during the monarch butterfly season. As she says, she “hit it off” with the guide, who today is her husband, Joel Moreno Rojas.
May 28, 2021
Opinion: How the amazing monarch butterfly migrants became refugees — from us
On a damp January afternoon 46 years ago in rural Mexico, a wayfaring American retiree, his adventurous young Mexican wife, and a local villager, along with a skinny pack horse and a dog named Kola, trudged up a muddy mountainside in search of a waking dream. At 11,000 feet, improbably, they found it.
May 13, 2021
The Visionary Activist Show – Beauty v Cruelty ~ We’re betting on Beauty
Caroline welcomes from Mexico, Ellen Sharp and Joel Moreno, to file scouting reports on the plight of Monarch Butterflies, and the Indigenous communities… as with Bonobo conservation, they know, to save the Bonobos, to save the Monarchs, we must save the people… offer people sustainable jobs of stewardship… tis all one story… Everything is calling …
February 9, 2021
For a Family in Mexico, a Mission to Protect Monarchs
If there’s something that the Moreno family agrees on, it’s that monarch butterflies changed their lives. And not just their own but the lives of most in Macheros, Mexico. The agricultural village of 400 people—whose name translates to “stables” in Spanish, because of the 100 horses that also make their home here—sits at the entrance to Cerro Pelón, one of four sanctuaries in Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, established by the federal government in 1986.
December 24, 2020
Discovered butterfly tag in Mexico represents monarchs' tale of survival.
Their existence threatened, monarch butterflies didn't receive the protection hoped for under the Endangered Species List in an announcement last week. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said Dec. 15 that while a listing was warranted, there were "higher priority" species in need.
December 9, 2020
Year of crisis for Monarch butterflies
The horse I rode up the Perro Celón mountain last year to see the Monarch butterflies won’t be carrying tourists this year. That’s because the butterfly sanctuary there has been closed as a precaution against COVID-19.
December 8, 2020
Does tourism negatively impact the monarch winter colonies in Mexico? A study attempted to find out
As we begin to close out this year, I'm going to take a look back at a largely passed-over study that came out this summer. I had seen and read this paper at the time, and I don't recall ever seeing any discussion about it. Given it's implications, this seems unfortunate. However, this is where this blog comes in! So today I'll give you a breakdown of this new study, plus provide some critical commentary of my own (spoiler - there were some limitations).
December 7, 2020
In Mexico’s vibrant forests, locals adapt to a year without tourists
WHEN SHE WAS 10 years old, Ana Moreno watched buses full of tourists pull into her village. They had come to see the monarch butterflies, which arrive in flurries each November and stay the winter in the Sierra Madre’s forested peaks. Moreno watched the monarch enthusiasts pour from buses, chattering to each other. She thought to herself, “How is it possible that I don’t speak English?”
November 16, 2020
As ESA listing decision looms, new study challenges “dogmatic narrative” that monarchs are in decline
With a decision on whether or not the monarch butterfly will be listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act due by December 15, a new study challenges the conventional narrative that the migrating monarch butterfly population is in decline.
October 29, 2020
Sanctuary closure sparks virtual butterfly tours to support economy
Conservationists worry that people will turn to logging to support themselves. While butterfly sanctuaries in México state are gearing up to open for the arrival of the monarchs in November, two sanctuaries on the butterflies’ first major stop in Mexico — and where they form their first colony of the season — will be closed to the public this year due to fears about the coronavirus pandemic.
October 28, 2020
Outrunning Death with the Monarchs
The migration of the eastern North American monarch butterfly is an improbable feat. Every fall, an insect no more substantial than a potato chip flies up to 4,800 kilometers—roughly 3,000 miles—from southeastern Canada to central Mexico, subsisting on nectar and riding the wind. In 2019, a group of humans joined the butterflies for an improbable migration of their own.
October 27, 2020
Peterborough ultramarathon raising funds for Mexico’s famous monarch butterfly sanctuary
Peterborough ultra runners Carlotta James and Tim Haines are running 50 kilometres on Sunday (November 1) to help protect monarch butterflies in Mexico. Last week, the wife-and-husband team launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise awareness and funds for the protection of the Cerro Pelón Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, located in Macheros, Mexico.
October 25, 2020
50km Pop-Up Fundraiser for Butterflies & Their People and Monarch Sanctuary
Last spring my husband Tom and I traveled to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve at Cerro Pelón to continue filming Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly. We stayed in the magically beautiful tiny rustic town of Macheros at the equally as beautiful JM Butterflies Bed and Breakfast. The hotel is owned and operated by a visionary husband and wife team, Joel Moreno Rojas and Ellen Sharp.
October 8, 2020
Why San Antonio and South Texas are critical to survival of monarch butterfly population
The monarch butterflies have a special meaning in Mexico and parts of the United States, including South Texas. The butterflies are not just beautiful to look at, as millions of monarchs begin to appear in Mexico around Day of the Dead, they are believed to hold the spirits of lost loved ones.
October 7, 2020
Monarch butterfly migration is unique and amazing phenomenon with Dia de Muertos symbolism
One of the most recognizable symbols of Dia de Muertos is a creature many people in San Antonio and South Texas are familiar with, the monarch butterfly. In Day of the Dead lore, these butterflies are said to represent the souls of lost loved ones and appear in Mexico every year around Dia de Muertos.
March 11, 2020
Off-the-Beaten Path: A Visit to Mexico’s Cerro Pelón Monarch Butterfly Reserve
Each autumn, millions of monarch butterflies make the journey thousands of kilometres south from east of the Rocky Mountains to a small area of high-altitude forest near Mexico City. This is where they roost in colonies from November until March. It’s a beautiful annual migration—butterflies return to the same trees in the same forest that earlier generations left three or four years earlier.
March 1, 2020
Safe Guarding the Butterflies: Film Interview with Joel Moreno Rojas and Ellen Sharp, Founders of the Butterflies and Their People Project
In March I had the tremendous joy of interviewing Ellen Sharp and Joel Moreno Rojas, founders of the nonprofit organization “The Butterflies and Their People Project.” We filmed the interview from the rooftop of their hotel, JM Butterfly B&B, which is located at the base of Cerro Pelon Monarch Butterfly Reserve in Macheros, Mexico. Cerro Pelon is the old volcanic mountain where the Monarchs wintering home was first located by Mexican citizen scientist Catalina Aguado Trail, on January 2, 1975.
February 1, 2020
Witnessing The Miracle of Mexico’s Monarch Migration
Everything You Need To Know About Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Migration: There are few things in this world that can bring a grown Mexican man to tears. But, the natural miracle of the monarch butterfly migration is one of those things. Of course, watching 50 million monarchs blanket the blue skies is enough to bring a tear to anyone’s eye.
January 17, 2020
Chasing Butterflies with JM Butterfly B&B
There is nothing like staying in a B&B, hotel or home-share where you feel special. Because, even when we travel far, we are always searching for the feeling of “home.” That is the feeling you get with JM Butterfly B&B. Not only are you traveling sustainably, but you feel like family. Here is how they set themselves apart.
December 15, 2019
Mystery of Mexico’s Monarchs
No not Monarchs as in rulers and royalty. I’m talking about the eastern population of North American Monarch butterflies who overwinter in a dozen or so mountain areas in the States of Mexico and Michoacan from October/November to late March.
May 23, 2019
Behind The Essay: Monarchs and Macheros
This spring, I was lucky to have an essay I wrote published in Broad Street, titled “A Curious Migration.” The seeds for the essay, which was in part about milkweed, came from a blog post I wrote in July 2013. The town of Macheros, mentioned in the essay, is a special place, and I thought I’d share some photos of it here.
March 26, 2019
How To See The Monarch Butterflies In Mexico
Mexico is famous for being one of the few places in the world you can see the monarch butterflies en masse. Every year in November the monarch butterflies arrive from the USA and set up home in the Oyamel fir trees in Michoacan and Estado de Mexico. This article will explain how to see the monarch butterflies in Mexico and how to make the most of your trip.
March 6, 2019
Butterflies abound in mountainous Mexican winter habitat
CERRO PELÓN MONARCH BUTTERFLY SANCTUARY, Mexico (AP) — As the group made its way up the rugged mountain path toward the clearing, their heavy, crunching bootsteps turned to near-silent tiptoeing, their friendly chitchat dropped to whispers, giddy smiles appeared on faces and eyes brimmed with tears. The first-time visitors to this mountain monarch butterfly reserve were, in a word, gobsmacked.
January 29, 2018
On the trail of Mexico's butterfly migration
Mike Corey, host of the BBC's Travel Show, visits the Cerro Pelon Monarch butterfly sanctuary and discusses some of the risks the butterflies face from the destruction of habitats in the USA and Canada and deforestation Mexico where they migrate to every year.
July 10, 2017
Success! Petition spurs rangers' reinstatement at Monarch butterfly roosting forest
Three park rangers have been redeployed to patrol one of the most visited Monarch butterfly overwintering sites in Mexico after having been summarily reassigned elsewhere following the end of the 2017 ecotourism season. The return of the rangers follows the launch of a Change.org petition that gathered 2,088 signatures in three weeks.
May 10, 2017
Beyond Monarch butterflies: pollinators and politics at Texas Pollinator PowWow
The fifth Texas Pollinator PowWow assembled in the piney woods of Nacogdoches, Texas, last weekend. About 75 people made their way to Texas’ oldest city to celebrate pollinators in all their forms–syrphid flies, solitary wasps, fireflies, hummingbirds, bears, bats, bees, and yes–Monarch butterflies.
March 15, 2017
Saving the Monarch Butterfly or Saving the Village
At first the trees appear unchanged. The branches of the oyamel firs curve towards the ground, heavy with dark shapes that rustle in the wind. The forest is silent. A few seconds pass in stillness before a beam of sunlight carves its way through the canopy. As it settles upon the tree, the branches erupt. Flooding into the air, the gold and copper colors on the monarch butterflies’ wings set the forest aflame.