Flight of the Butterflies Screened at the Embassy of Canada in Washington

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Monarch butterflies are known for their incredible mass migration—a spectacular journey of more than 5,000 miles in search of warmer temperatures. These butterflies have the longest and largest migration route in North America, flying over Canada and the United States before they reach their final destination in Mexico. It takes three generations of Monarch butterflies to complete this amazing expedition to the forests of Michoacán in Mexico. The Flight of the Butterflies tells the story of the more than 40 years it took Canadian researcher Fred Urquhart to discover the amazing route of the Monarch butterflies toward their final destination. In 2008, UNESCO declared this enclave a World Heritage Site.

The Monarch butterfly is considered the king of butterflies because of their beauty, hence the name “Monarch”. The species is not able to survive the cold winters of the United States and Canada, so every autumn it migrates south and west to escape the cold weather. Migration usually starts around October. Monarch butterflies depend on milkweed for food, shelter and reproduction. However, pesticide use, climate change and urban expansion are causing shortages in the availability of this plant on the butterflies’ migration path.

At the screening, Executive Secretary of the Secretary for Integral Development (SEDI) of the OAS, Sherry Tross, said that “Our hemisphere contains the most exuberant scenic beauty, the most bio-diverse regions and unique natural resources on the planet, as well as being the paradise to thousands of migratory species, such as the monarch butterfly […]. In observance of this Earth day, I would like us to reflect on the role of the OAS in guaranteeing a healthy life in harmony with nature for all the citizens of the Americas, through its legal patrimony, its democratic values, through dialogue and cooperation.”

During his address, Ambassador Allan Culham, Permanent Representative of Canada to the OAS commented on recent surveys showing that overwintering grounds in Mexico and California indicate severe declines in Monarch butterfly populations¾estimated by some scientists to be of 35 million. The Government of Mexico has proposed trilateral collaboration for the conservation of this species of butterfly. At the North American Leaders Summit held in February 2014 in Toluca, the Governments of Canada, Mexico and the United states agreed to collaborate in the protection of the region’s biodiversity and to address other environmental challenges, such as wildlife trafficking and ecosystems at risk. Additionally, the leaders agreed to establish a working group to ensure the conservation of the Monarch butterfly, “a species that symbolizes our association”.