Birds which migrate vast distances each year have long been a marvel to interested observers-but even more marvelous is the migrating butterfly, danaus plexippus, commonly called the Monarch butterfly.
Monarchs travel up to 3,000 miles every fall. Those moving south from the eastern two-thirds of the United States and Canada predominantly head for a small forest in central Mexico, where millions of these beautiful creatures annually congregate in a remote mountain area comprising less than 15 square miles. Some thirteen million of them annually congregate in just one particular site only three to four acres in extent!
Smaller colonies winter at locations along the Gulf Coast from Florida to south Texas, while Monarchs from the western third of North America mostly winter in small areas along the Pacific coast, between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Smaller numbers over-winter in Arizona. Additionally, "the Monarch has spread from its home in the Americas to Hawaii, Indonesia, Australasia, the Canary Islands, and has recently established colonies in Mediterranean countries."
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