Monarchs are migrating through South Texas right now

What kind of numbers the National Butterfly Center has been seeing and why that number might surprise you

Learn what kind of numbers the National Butterfly Center has been seeing and why that number might surprise you.

SAN ANTONIO – The migrating Monarch is stopping on its trek in San Antonio as we speak.

KSAT 12 visited the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas where the Monarchs will soon be swarming their native vegetation by the thousands.

When we went the Monarchs hadn’t arrived, as they are a bit late this year. We saw hundreds of Queen butterflies, orange butterflies that look a lot like Monarchs, but are their cousins and have different markings and are a different orange.

“Monarchs that come through typically cross the Rio Grande River and they come through closer to Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos,” Marianna Wright, the executive director of the National Butterfly Center said.

“Their actual movement will depend upon cold fronts because they ride those high winds south,” Wright said.

This is the population that was put on the endangered species list this year.

Wright said research done by the North American Butterfly Association shows that the population in Michoacan, Mexico continues to fall dramatically, though monarch breeding numbers from spring to fall are stable.

”The North American monarch population is stable throughout North America during the summer,” Wright said. “Its reproduction numbers are fairly the same over the last 40 to 50 years, and that’s a good sign.”

Wright said the data regarding healthy, consistent, summer Monarch populations in the United States may ultimately support theories that the transcontinental Monarch migration will dwindle with increasing pressure, such as habitat shrinkage from logging at their overwintering sites, and climate change. This could result in more Monarchs spending their winters in the U.S. in the future.

“It can depend upon weather events in the United States, wildfires, severe freezes, different things that impact the population like habitat, disappearance and drought,” Wright said.

Pesticides also play a role in the decline of all butterflies and insects across the globe.

Wright mentioned a bug apocalypse. The reason so many monarchs stop at the center every year on their journey is because they can smell nectar miles away. It’s why she said a push for wildflowers along our highways is a bad idea, and in turn can hurt the migrating population.

”Attracting butterflies and monarchs to highways is where they wind up on our windshields,” Wright said. “But then there’s also pollution, air pollution and other runoff from construction materials, from the leaking of fossil fuels that may be in the pipeline easements that run alongside those roads and other pollutants. So we need to find solutions.”

Wright said a better solution would be for everyone to plant native pollinating plants and milkweed in their home gardens and businesses and “to learn about the wildflowers and grasses and shrubs and trees that belong where they live and support wildlife,” Wright said.

She stressed planting natives without pesticide use is crucial.

“Everyone needs to learn how to live with bugs,” Wright said. “If we have bats and Swallows Martins and dragonflies, we’ll have fewer mosquitoes, for example. If you allow spiders, you’ll have fewer flies. If you allow tarantulas, you’ll have fewer cockroaches. Nature was perfectly designed, and we’ve really messed it up with poisons. Poisoning our yards, our water, our air and our food ultimately only harms us and all other living creatures.”

You can see the Migrating Monarchs at the National Butterfly Center this weekend during its Texas Butterfly Festival. It’s a three-day festival that is expected to have 2,000-3,000 people at the center. You can read about it by clicking here.

About the Authors:

Sarah Acosta is a weekend Good Morning San Antonio anchor and a general assignments reporter at KSAT12. She joined the news team in April 2018 as a morning reporter for GMSA and is a native South Texan.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.