Article by Jennifer Dawnson
The monarch butterfly population has declined nearly 80 percent in the last two decades. At this rate, the chance is uncomfortably high that monarchs will be extinct by 2038. Thankfully, there are ongoing efforts to save the butterfly, some of which consist of promoting monarch migration destinations to increase public interest. This leads people to camp in monarch country for the purpose of viewing these increasingly rare and stunningly beautiful butterflies. While enthusiasm for monarchs, and camping in general, is not a bad thing, disturbing the butterflies is. When sharing your space with a sensitive species, it’s important to practice conscientious camping, which is easy if you consider the following points.
Choose a Proper Site
All monarch butterflies migrate to the same locations every year, which means that these few places will be visited by millions of monarchs all at once. Southern California is one destination for the overwintering monarchs, as are certain sites in Arizona, Florida, and Mexico. For the chance to see this famous butterfly in a gargantuan kaleidoscope, many people journey to these locations for hikes, guided tours, and camping trips. One can camp among monarchs, but delicately – and not on preserved land. When choosing a campsite, be aware of your surroundings. Avoid making camp near roosting monarchs or in the middle of an active migratory route. The farther you camp from monarch butterflies, the better.
Bring Lightweight Gear
Camping with monarchs does not necessitate a heavy load. Campers should demand as little space as possible. A compact, lightweight tent is necessary fare in monarch country. If possible, the tent should be erected on designated camping ground. It should also be at least 160 feet from any trees containing the butterflies. When traveling around the site, wear light shoes and keep the noise to a minimum. Stick to paths and retain all garbage for later disposal away from the monarchs. Almost as important as not disturbing the butterflies themselves is to not disturb any plants in the area. These plants are the butterflies' shelter and sustenance.
Observe and (If Necessary) Report
While observing the butterflies from a respectful distance, be on the lookout for fellow monarch enthusiasts who are less conscientious. Anyone harming the monarchs or their habitat should be reported. Any logging operations that occur in or near migration sites should be reported as well. Illegal logging, particularly in the Michoacán region of Mexico, has played a big role in the species’ decline.
Since monarchs are teetering on the edge of extinction, a maimed migration site could be the final push. For people who wish to spend a night or two enmeshed in their natural beauty, it is crucial to be conscientious while camping so the butterflies are not harmed or at risk.
If you have any addition questions about seeing or camping with Monarchs, please submit your questions below.