Monarch Migration

Monarch Migration


In late summer and early autumn, one generation of monarch butterflies undergoes a mysterious transformation, pausing their development into mature adults. The butterflies become the generation that migrates up to 2,000 miles to their overwintering grounds in Mexico, where they will transform into adults the following spring.

When the monarch butterflies begin their southern journey, they rely on topographical features to navigate, such as the Great Lakes shoreline, and they congregate where the land juts into points. One point in particular, Peninsula Point, Michigan, has a large annual congregation of migrating monarch butterflies. Although never previously making a migratory trip, these great monarch butterflies somehow seem to know Peninsula Point affords them the shortest distance across the open waters of Little Bay de Noc and Green Bay to Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula.

In the early 1990s, C.J. Meitner made an inquiry into the importance of the annual congregation of monarch butterflies at Peninsula Point in a study funded by Wildlife Unlimited of Delta County. This study concluded that Peninsula Point was a nursery and a migration gathering area for monarch butterflies. Peninsula Point has become a unique area to study two important aspects of the wondrous monarch butterfly’s life history—reproduction and migration.

As summer progresses into autumn and days turn to nights, monarch butterflies roost in the cedar trees along the shoreline. They become active as the morning sun warms and dries the dew from their wings.

The butterflies’ annual appearance also coincides with visits by hundreds of monarch butterfly fans from across the country to watch the butterflies gather in late summer and early fall. The best month is August, although migration continues throughout September when the peninsula’s hardwoods begin to take on their fall colors.


Monarch Butterfly Monitoring Project


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Monarch FAQ

Where is Peninsula Point?

When do Monarchs Migrate?

When can I see the monarchs at Peninsula Point?

Are there other areas where monarchs congregate?

Where do the monarchs go?

How do the monarchs navigate to Mexico?