Where Do Monarch Butterflies Migrate To? A Complete Guide

Monarch butterflies from North America migrate for warmth. Eastern monarchs fly to Mexico’s Oyamel fir forests in Michoacán and the State of Mexico. Western monarchs move to coastal groves from Marin County to Baja California. Outside North America, some go to warm spots in New Zealand. They follow natural cues like temperature and sun position to guide them.

where do monarch butterflies migrate to? -key points informational infographic


Monarch butterflies are special. They have colorful wings and are known by many people around the world. But what makes them even more special is the long trip they take every year.

This trip is called a migration. It’s like when birds fly to a warmer place in the winter and then come back when it gets warmer. But where do monarch butterflies migrate to?

In this article, we will learn about the places these beautiful butterflies go to. We will look at their journey from the forests of North America to the warm places they spend their winters. We’ll also talk about how they know where to go, even though they’ve never been there before.

For a deeper dive into their migration patterns, check out A complete guide on monarch butterfly migration.

So, get ready to join us on this exciting journey to find out where the monarch butterflies travel.

Eastern North American Population Migration

Monarch butterflies living in the eastern part of North America start their journey from places like Canada and the United States. Imagine these tiny creatures flying for thousands of miles! It’s a big adventure for them.

Summer and Fall Habitats:

During the warm months of summer and fall, you can find these butterflies enjoying their time in green fields, gardens, and forests across Canada and the U.S. They flutter around, sipping nectar from flowers and laying their eggs on milkweed plants.

Wintering Sites:

But as the cold months approach, the monarch butterflies prepare for a long flight. Where do monarch butterflies migrate in the winter? They head to a special place in Mexico.

These butterflies gather in the Oyamel fir forests located in the mountains of Michoacán and the State of Mexico.

This place is like a winter home for them. They huddle together on trees, covering them like a blanket of orange and black wings. It’s a beautiful sight that many people travel to see.

Now, you might be wondering, how do monarch butterflies know where to migrate? How do they find their way to this special place in Mexico every year? Well, that’s a mystery we will uncover later in this article.

Now, you might be wondering, when do monarch butterflies start their migration? The specific timing of their migration varies based on a few factors. You can learn more about it in our article on when do monarch butterflies migrate.

Western North American Population Migration

Now, let’s talk about another group of monarch butterflies. These butterflies live in the western part of North America. Just like their eastern cousins, these butterflies also have an amazing journey to share.

Summer and Fall Habitats:

In the warm days of summer and fall, these butterflies spread their wings in places across the Western U.S. From open meadows to blossoming gardens, they bring joy to everyone who sees them. They dance from flower to flower, taking in the sweet nectar and, like the eastern monarchs, laying their eggs on milkweed plants.

Wintering Sites:

As the days become shorter and the cool breeze starts to blow, these butterflies know it’s time for a change. Where do the monarch butterflies migrate to in California? The answer is the coastal regions.

They find comfort in the coastal groves of trees that stretch from Marin County all the way down to Baja California. Here, they cluster together, turning the trees into a living work of art.

Their vibrant wings create a stunning display against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean.

If you ever find yourself on a winter beach stroll in these areas, look closely at the trees. What might first appear to be orange and black leaves could be these wonderful butterflies taking a well-deserved rest.

Lesser-Known Monarch Migrations

While many people know about monarch butterflies in North America, not everyone knows that there are other places in the world where these butterflies travel. Let’s explore some of these lesser-known journeys.

Other Destinations Around the World:

One interesting place is New Zealand. Yes, you read that right! Monarch butterflies can be found there too. Where do monarch butterflies migrate in New Zealand? In New Zealand, these butterflies move to find warm spots during the colder months.

They gather in certain trees and areas where they can stay warm and safe. People in New Zealand love watching them, just like in North America.

There are also smaller groups of monarch butterflies in other parts of the world. These groups have their own special places they go to. While these migrations might not be as big as the ones in North America, they are still very important. Every journey these butterflies take is a sign of how amazing nature is.

A Worldwide Wonder:

No matter where they are in the world, the journey of the monarch butterfly is a wonder to behold. Their travels show us how even the smallest creatures can do big things. And no matter where they go, people love to watch and learn about them.

Understanding the “How” Behind the Migration

Have you ever wondered how monarch butterflies know where to go? It’s a big question. These little butterflies fly so far, to places they’ve never been before.

So, how do they do it? This is a complex topic, and if you’re curious about the deeper reasons behind their migration, read our article on why do monarch butterflies migrate.

Natural Guides and Instincts:

One of the big reasons is their natural instincts. Just like how birds know when and where to fly, monarch butterflies have this knowledge inside them. It’s like a built-in map and compass. They don’t need to ask for directions or use a GPS. They just know.

Environmental Cues:

The world around them also gives clues. The temperature of the air, the position of the sun, and the changing seasons are like signals. When it gets colder, the butterflies know it’s time to start their journey. They also use the sun to help them know which direction to fly. It’s like their natural compass.

A Mystery Still Being Uncovered:

Scientists are always trying to learn more about monarch butterflies. They want to understand all the secrets of their migration. While we know a lot, there are still many things to discover.

Every year, new things are learned about these amazing butterflies and their long trips.

In the end, the journey of the monarch butterfly is a mix of nature’s magic and the butterfly’s strong will. It’s a story of survival, adventure, and the wonders of the natural world.


The story of the monarch butterfly is truly a tale of wonder. From the vast forests of North America to the coastal groves of California and even to distant lands like New Zealand, these beautiful creatures captivate us with their journeys.

Their vibrant wings carry them across continents, showcasing nature’s incredible design.

Where do monarch butterflies migrate to? We’ve journeyed together to answer this, discovering their winter homes, the paths they tread, and the natural cues guiding them. Their migrations are not just movements but symbolize resilience, determination, and the beauty of the natural world.

As we wrap up, let’s take a moment to appreciate these small yet magnificent travelers. Their migrations remind us of the wonders of our world, urging us to respect and protect the delicate balance of nature.

The next time you see a monarch butterfly, pause and reflect on its incredible journey, and know that you’re witnessing one of nature’s most remarkable spectacles.

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