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  • The butterflies congregate, clustering onto pine and oyamel trees.

    The butterflies congregate, clustering onto pine and oyamel trees. | Photo: SEMARNAT

Every year the butterflies offer a wonderful natural spectacle when they perform their annual migration across North America.

The chaos theory says that “something as small as the flutter of a butterfly's wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world,” but what about the flapping of millions of these insects? 

Every year the butterflies offer a wonderful natural spectacle when they perform their annual migration across North America, reaching the central Mexican state of Michoacan, in search of refuge from the cold sweeping the United States and Canada, where they live during the summer. 

It was in 1975, 41 years ago, when researchers discovered what today is known as the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, while they were exploring the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt pine-oak forests and they suddenly saw huge clusters of monarchs on the trees limbs. 

Monarchs travel 4,200 kilometers each year, a trip surrounded by mystery that has been the subject of several scientific research. When they finally reach their warm destination they occupy about 56,000 hectares of the reserve from October–March.

From Mexico, seeking to save the monarch butterfly and its incredible migration route

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO declared the place a World Heritage Site in 2008. It attracts millions of tourists who go to see what has been called “one of the most spectacular natural phenomena in the world."

However the butterflies are threatened by illegal logging and climate change, with the latter causing a considerable decrease in the amount of Monarchs who reach the reserve. 

These magnificent insects live only eight months and spend most of their life traveling.

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