This winter we visited a Monarch sanctuary in the Sierra Madre mountains in Michoacan, Mexico near the town of Angangueo. The Monarch butterflies arrive in colonies through the month of November and stay until March. Anywhere from 60 million to 1 billion Monarchs migrate to this area every winter. The El Rosario preserve is at an altitude of 11,000 feet. One can hike up 3 kilometers from the entrance, or ride horses most of the way.
We arrived at the site of one of the many colonies of Monarchs in the area, and saw tens of thousands of butterflies sleeping in the pine trees. Those are not leaves on the trees, they are sleeping Monarchs.
Toward midday when sunlight begins to filter into the forest, the butterflies begin to wake up.
The trees begin to turn orange.
The sunlight gives the butterflies energy.
One can see they are living in pine trees after all.
And eventually they take flight in search of water on the ground or at a river nearby.