from the National Wildlife Federation
photo from Meg Calhoun
Like many other pollinator species, the monarch is facing a dire situation, and its migratory population has drastically declined in the last two decades—with slight increases and decreases in the numbers reported from 2020 through 2022—causing great concern among monarch conservation experts. Just as the monarch transforms through its metamorphosis, communities around the monarch sanctuaries in México and across the United States and Canada are transforming their lifestyle and practices to preserve the species and its native habitats.
For hundreds of years, as Day of the Dead celebrations begin, the blue skies of the State of Michoacán and the State of México are painted with bright orange, black and white kaleidoscopes. This change in colors signals the arrival of the beloved monarchs after a long journey south from their summer breeding areas in the U.S. and Canada.
Call it coincidence, fate, or just nature and species survival traits, but the arrival of these high-spirited insects to their overwintering sites has miraculously connected them with one of the most important celebrations of contemporary Mexican culture: The Day of the Dead.
The native communities within and nearby the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve include the monarchs in their Day of the Dead celebrations. For many of them, the monarchs are the souls of the beloved, deceased family members who returned home from the spiritual world, in time to participate in the earthly celebration.
Families prepare a great event to honor and welcome their beloved departed: It is a coming together for everyone, the dead and the living relatives. This connection shows the powerful impact that monarchs can have to shape our identities, traditions, and culture.Through this evolution of cultures and newer influences like the mass media, social media, and globalization, monarchs have intertwined themselves in aspects of our society, economy, and most importantly, in the conservation of all pollinators and the preservation of the land.
The inexplicable power of monarchs has inspired many of us in various ways,
making them an iconic symbol of strength, resilience, transformation,
preservation, and hope.
Understanding our roots and the transformation of our cultures is key to our identities.
Thus, we continue to reflect on the deep connection that
monarchs have with humans, culture, and traditions.
As we continue to implement monarch conservation strategies in the U.S. and Canada, the monarch overwintering grounds must also be protected and sustainably managed. The “Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve Management Program” seeks to conserve the pine-mixed Oyamel forest, and also incorporates community development and cultural elements. The connection between our traditions, culture, and the monarch butterfly is a great opportunity to uplift our efforts to conserve and protect the butterfly. Now deeply rooted in our traditions, the monarch deserves that we take care of its habitats, that we advocate and speak for it, and that we ask others to help us conserve this amazing creature that has contributed to our lives in so many ways. The deep, emotional connection that many of us have with the monarch might be beyond words, and it makes us care for its survival as a species. During these days of celebration, let’s inspire others too to care for the monarch.
For more information on conservation of the monarch follow the link below: