Dias de los Monarchs

Bar graph demonstrates the total area occupied by monarch colonies at overwintering sites in Mexico. 1994-2013 average is 6.69 hectares. Average for 2004-2013 is 3.83 hectares.
Bar graph demonstrates change in amount of monarchs overwintering in sites in Mexico, quantifies by hectares. Average from 1994 to 1997 is 13.80 ha. Average from 1997 to 2000 is 6.79. Average from 2000-03 is 6.6. Average from 2004-07 is 4.9. Average from 2008-11 is 3.7.  Average from 2012-13 is 2.04

As monarchs emerge in the South Texas sky, certain Mexican cultural traditions also emerge. Just as butterflies are sure to return each year, families, friends and loved ones will meet again in Mexico on Nov 2, Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. This holiday celebrates our loved ones who have passed, and on the night of November 2nd these individuals return to Earth to visit us. It has long been believed in these regions that monarchs are the returning spirits of their deceased relatives. This happens magically at the same time each year, coinciding perfectly with the celebration of Dia de los Muertos. The local Aztec tradition holds that the souls of the departed will return as hummingbirds and butterflies, and the link between spirituality and the monarchs’ annual return spans centuries. Monarchs move south for their annual return to Mexico during this season to overwinter in a small mountain area in central Mexico until March. In the monarch’s long journey to Mexico, these butterflies will make an appearance in South Texas in October. Unfortunately, worldwide monarch populations have severely declined since the 1990s by 70% of their original census, due to habitat loss, pesticides, disease, and climate change. The city of San Antonio celebrates, educates, and advocates for Monarchs as well as all pollinators this month through many related events as part of the Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival. At San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, we will celebrate with a monarch and pollinator display in the San Jose Visitor Center Museum from October 22-29 and a Pedal for Pollinators Bike Ride on October 27th, 2019. Dia de los Muertos will be celebrated at Mission San Jose October 21 through November 2 with ofrendas or altars created by mission descendant families, in memory of their passed loved ones. So keep your eyes open for a monarch in the sky. When you see a monarch, who will you think of?

What will you be doing this month for monarchs and pollinators?

red wildflowers grow in the pollinator garden, with a view of the san juan church in the background
Wildflowers in the pollinator garden at Mission San Juan help to feed pollinators, including monarchs.

NPS Photo.

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

Last updated: May 7, 2021