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'Nature's true phenomenon': Monarch butterflies from Canada arrive at Wendy Park on way to Mexico

Posted at 2:30 PM, Sep 08, 2020

CLEVELAND — It’s that time of year again, when thousands of monarch butterflies descend from Canada to the shores of Lake Erie, resting before making the long trip to Mexico. This annual migration resumed overnight with the sightings of monarchs roosting in the cottonwood trees at Wendy Park.

On Tuesday, the Cleveland Metroparks took to Facebook Live to show what visitors can expect if they visit Wendy Park to see the monarchs.

Marty Calabrese, a naturalist from the Cleveland Metroparks, says wind and temperature are determining factors that bring the butterflies to the shores of Lake Erie. If the weather is good in Canada, the monarchs will make their way over to Lake Erie.

If the weather is rainy, cool, dreary, otherwise considered poor conditions, Calabrese said the monarchs will rest and roost because they are solar-powered creatures.

“What will happen is more monarchs will come down from Canada. If the weather is good in Canada, they don’t know that the weather is not good in Cleveland, and the additional monarchs, we’re talking 10, 100, 1,000 plus at a time will land and continue to do this for two to three days,” he said, calling this event one of nature’s “true phenomenons.”

So far this year, Calabrese has tagged 10 monarchs in the hopes of better understanding their long journey south. You can track monarch migration here.

Monarch tagged IMG_4418b Marty Calabrese (1).jpg
Monarch tagged by Marty Calabrese.

"It's really one of the most accessible and rewarding citizen science projects. My favorite is when I hear of school teachers doing this with their students. It can even be done with captive-reared monarchs," he said on working with local teachers to tag monarchs.

If you're not able to catch this mass migration and spot just a few, naturalists said it's still a sight to see because it's rare to even see a couple on any day.

"Wendy Park and the Cleveland Metroparks are natural areas that are critical to their survival and simultaneously helping them make their journey," Calabrese said.

If you want to see a build-up of monarchs, check out places like Wendy Park or any Cleveland Metroparks lakefront reservation.