Telling this story through our documentary film is of utmost importance, not only to inform people about the delicate state of pollinators and the environment, but also as a call to action to help save monarchs and other pollinators. How we engage with our communities to do their part to fight climate change and build a more sustainable world is integral to the survival of the human species. Our project provides an opportunity to raise awareness of pollinators and their significance to biodiversity and food security. The Monarch Ultra team hopes to see the monarch butterfly become a symbol of resiliency, strength and inspiration that motivates people into conservation action. We also hope that our ultra marathon is just the beginning of a larger movement to help protect pollinator species worldwide.
WAYS TO SUPPORT MONARCH CONSERVATION: 1. Visit our Global Partners page to learn more about and support organizations working towards monarch conservation. 2. Create and preserve pollinator habitat, including planting milkweed and other nectar-rich plants. For more information, visit the Monarch Joint Venture's website. 3. Join Journey North citizen scientists as they track monarch butterfly migrations each fall & spring as monarch butterflies migrate to & from Mexico. 4. Host Monarch Festivals and community screenings of monarch documentaries. 5. Use nature-friendly products and avoid pesticides. For more information, visit Pollinator Partnership's website. 6. Spread the word that milkweed is a beneficial and host plant for the monarch butterfly. 7. Support communities that protect monarch overwintering sanctuaries, such as the Cerro Pelon Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Macheros, Mexico. 8. Host Mini-Monarch Ultras at your schools, and get youth engaged in environmental and climate action.
THE MONARCH MIGRATION Each fall, monarch butterflies migrate from eastern North America to Mexico, a distance of over 4,000km. (Monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains migrate to California.) Millions of monarchs gather in the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico in the oyamel fir forests and stay there for the winter. In the spring, monarchs begin their journey back north. On their northern migration, monarchs mate and lay eggs. Those eggs become caterpillars and then chrysalises. New butterflies emerge and continue the journey. This happens two, three or four times during the northern migration. The butterflies that complete the return journey are the offspring of those that left in the fall - the super monarchs. The Monarch Ultra story begins with the fall migration in eastern North America and ends in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Our journey will follow the monarch migration and the special place it has in the history of the land and with the communities along the route.
WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT MILKWEED? Once you make the connection between milkweed and monarchs, it's easy to see that this plant is a superpower in the world of pollinators. The monarchs's interdependence with this plant means that milkweed is the only host plant capable of sustaining its larvae. Monarchs are at a much great risk when habitat destruction decimates the one and only larval host plant they depend on. Milkweed also performs another vital task for both the caterpillar and the adult butterfly in creating a defence mechanism. As the caterpillar eats the leaves, it ingests toxic chemicals called cardenolides found in the milky sap. These terrible-tasting compounds make monarchs unpalatable to birds and other predators. Birds come to associate the colour and pattern of monarchs with a horrible taste, and learn to avoid them at all costs. You can support monarchs by planting milkweed! Monarchs usually lay only one egg per plant to ensure each new larva has plenty to eat. So we need gardeners, schools, and municipalities across North America to get involved by planting milkweed and creating pollinator-friendly habitats for monarchs and other pollinators to thrive!