monarch migration

What to Know About Monarch Butterflies' Migration Through Chicago This Month

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Chicagoans could see more waves of monarch butterflies flutter through the city over the next few weeks, as many migrate south for the colder months.

For the best locations to spot the butterflies and how long they could stay in the Chicago area, chief curator for the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Doug Taron gave the latest information.

Here's what you should know --

When can Chicago expect to see more waves of monarch butterflies?

One wave of monarch butterflies has been in Chicago for about the past week and a half, with another likely on the way down from Wisconsin that should be in the city "soon," according to Doug Taron, chief curator for the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

"Different waves may last only for a couple of days, but the whole migration phenomenon starts at the end of August, peaks right about now and will be tailing off through the end of September," Taron said.

Where's the best spot to see the monarchs?

For those looking to spot the monarchs, Taron said they tend to stay near floral nectar, which is commonly found in parks with lots of flowers. He noted that monarchs have been gathering around the grounds of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum over the last few weeks, as well.

The lakefront is an ideal place to spot the butterflies, he explained, as they tend to use coastlines and waterways during migration. As for people west of Chicago, monarchs have also been spotted along both the Mississippi River and the Illinois River.

"This year seems to be a reasonably good migration," Taron said. "People are reporting recently good numbers of monarchs."

Where are the butterflies headed and when will they return?

All the monarchs are on their way down to Mexico, many traveling to the mountains about 100 miles west of Mexico City, he said. In the springtime, the butterflies head back over to southern Texas to lay eggs, whose offspring make their way back to Illinois for the cycle to begin again.

"The most recent butterflies that have been in Mexico are the great, great grandparents of the butterflies that are leaving now," Taron said.

Are there any ways to see the monarchs up close?

On Sunday, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum will host their Flutter Into Fall festival, which celebrates the monarch migration. The day will consist of activities like storytelling, nature walks and monarch tagging.

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