You might know that every year, twice a year, Monarch butterflies embark on one of the world's most spectacular migrations. But did you also know that this migration passes right through New York City?
Every year Monarch butterflies make their way from North America to their overwintering grounds in Mexico and California, leaving the deadly cold winters of the north for their warmer winter grounds. The migration of these tiny, beautiful creatures is estimated to be an astounding 3,000 miles from start to finish. Butterflies that are just weeks old, and that have never flown more than a few hundred yards from their birth plant, begin this epic journey when the temperatures begin to drop and the days begin to shorten. They reverse this journey to return north in the spring.
This migration exists only in North America. Nowhere else in the world can you find this particular beauty and mystery, and like so many amazing phenomenon, the migration passes right through New York City. On their way from Canada to Mexico and back, these travelers pass down Sixth Avenue, through Washington Square Park and even over the Brooklyn Bridge. Eager eyes can find them resting or feeding in parks and catching drafts high above the wide avenues during late spring and fall.
You may also know that due to the plummeting populations of Monarchs, this great world migration is endangered. This year, scientists have confirmed that due to habitat loss, the numbers of Monarchs that reached the overwintering grounds are at record lows. Without intervention, we will see the end of this majestic natural phenomenon in our life times.
Through the Green Grant Program of the Office of Sustainability, NYU has chosen to take part in saving the Monarch butterfly migration. A new Green Grant program, Make Way for Monarchs, will be creating habitats that support the migrating butterflies.
In honor of Earth Day 2014, the program will break ground on the first Make Way for Monarchs habitat in April.
Look out for the next post, where you can see before and after pictures of the first habitat, and learn what you can do to support Monarch butterflies!