Have you noticed all the beautiful monarch butterflies floating around El Paso?

Sam Cassiano

All kinds of butterflies are fluttering about these days, including Queens, Soldiers, and Viceroy butterflies which look very similar to Monarchs.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been greeted by butterflies every time I step out from my home all the way to work. But yesterday, I saw the first glimpses of monarchs at a stoplight off Stanton, where a small cluster of four monarchs floated over towards Mission Park.

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Monarch butterflies are nothing new for El Paso. Every year these intrepid creatures make their way down from up north on their migratory path, which leads straight through Texas into their overwintering sites in Mexico.

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According to the U.S. Forest Service, the annual migration of North America’s monarch butterfly is quite a phenomenon. It turns out that the monarch is the only butterfly that uses two-way migration (just as birds do) and flies as far as 3,000 miles every year down south.

Monarch butterflies are unique, and have been around for millions of years, and hold an abundance of cultural significance for many.

These wonderful butterflies play various roles in many Native American folktales and traditions, representing hope and abundance. In Catholicism, the monarch is seen as a symbol of foretelling, spiritual transformation, and rebirth.

Sam Cassiano

The monarch’s arrival into Mexico, especially in the state of Michoacán, is a breathtaking phenomenon that also carries strong cultural significance. Every year, like clockwork, migrating monarchs arrive in Mexico coinciding with Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead). For many in Mexico, monarchs represent the souls of their ancestors returning to visit them during the holy days.

Whether or not you believe that the souls of the deceased are migrating across states and countries, it is important to note that the conservation of monarchs is crucial for preserving their cross-country habitat and its meaningful cultural ties in Mexico.

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El Pasoans can plant flowering plants such as milkweed to support migrating monarchs, which will fuel them up with nectar as they fly south.

The monarch butterfly is an ancient, fascinating creature with multiple ties and cultural significance throughout the centuries, and it’s up to us to make sure that they continue to survive for future generations to enjoy.

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