Monarch Butterfly Migration, Michigan

monarch butterflysFor many years the DNR received reports of strange twisting clouds high above Lake Michigan, called in by folks on color tours around the Leelanau peninsula. The reports were generally dismissed as having no validity.

Then the age of digital cameras and hand-held video arrived. It was discovered that the unusual clouds were real and that they were actually enormous flocks of Monarch butterflys. Every autumn during the last two weeks of August and the first two weeks of September the Monarchs gather at Stonington Point just east of Escanaba and Gladstone, west of Manistique.

Here they wait until the winds are right for the migration flight south across Lake Michigan, Green Bay and on to their winter grounds in Mexico. Usually short-lived, this generation, known as the Methuselah generation, will live long enough to make the entire Monarch migration to Mexico. After that, they return to their normal life cycle.