SAN ANTONIO – Monarch butterflies are beautiful and in some cultures are symbols of hope.
In Mexico, monarchs represent the Souls of the Dead returning to Earth for their annual visit.
Right now you can see the butterflies migrating through San Antonio and South Texas.
“This is the population that makes that long journey of 2,000 miles between their wintering grounds in Mexico and areas north of here,” said Lee Marlowe, sustainable landscape ecologist for the San Antonio River Authority.
The monarchs pass through South Texas and feed on native flowers for nectar to fuel up for the extensive trip.
Earlier this year, some of a KSAT crew visited the forest in Mexico where millions of monarchs live during the winter months.
But monarchs aren’t the only butterflies migrating through our neighborhoods right now.
Marlowe said American Snout butterflies are flooding the area by the hundreds of thousands.
“They are moving regionally, they are moving because of new growth, a host plant they use called Hackberry,” Marlowe said.
The butterflies are more than just beautiful creatures to look at. Marlowe said butterflies and other pollinators like bees, birds, wasps and insects are crucial to our food supply.
“Pollinators are important to us because of the food that results from their activity,” Marlowe said.
And she said we are seeing less of them.
“It’s most likely related to habitat loss and habitat conversion, so loss of natural native plant cover and native plant communities is the biggest driver of loss of animal life,” Marlowe said.
She said butterflies and insect pollinators are connected very closely to our bird population, and once one part of the food chain in our ecosystem weakens it has a domino effect.
But there are ways we can help.
Marlowe said by planting native plants, especially flowering native plants, can provide nectar and food for butterflies and other pollinators.
“We can help restore and conserve some of this biodiversity that we know is really important for our own survival,” she said.
To celebrate our butterflies and pollinators every year the Texas Butterfly Ranch hosts the Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival.
Typically the festival takes place at the Pearl in October, but because of the pandemic- the festival this year is a month-long series of virtual events.
From movie screenings about the importance of bees to tutorials on how to garden for monarchs and pollinators can be found on the Texas Butterfly Ranch website.