Thousands of monarch butterflies flock to Point Pelee en-route to Mexico
Visitors can expect to see these monarch clusters through mid-October
Tens of thousands of butterflies are flying through Canada's most southern point and resting along the shore of Lake Erie as they migrate toward Mexico this month.
The shoreline of Point Pelee National Park acts as an ideal resting spot for the colourful butterflies as they prepare for the roughly 40 kilometre flight across Lake Erie and into Ohio, with only a few islands in between.
"Certainly within the park we've seen some nice upward trends in the last couple of years," said Andrew Laforet, the interpretation coordinator for Point Pelee National Park.
He said this is prime time to watch the butterflies cluster along the shoreline in the region.
The funnel system
"Rather than crossing the lake they'll follow the land out as far as it will take them until they have no choice," said Laforet.
"They're waiting for the right condition to cross."
Laforet said it's hard to predict when butterflies will head across the Lake or decide to stick around for a few hours, but he did offer some tips:
- Windy days with rain usually force the butterflies to hunker down, making it a perfect time to snap photos (just remember to keep the camera dry).
- Hot, sunny days tend to be when the butterflies decide to brave the flight across the water.
- Early mornings and sunsets are when clusters are most likely to appear.
How do you count thousands of butterflies?
The park has a great way of conducting an unofficial count of the butterflies with the help of Darlene Burgess, a butterfly expert who lives in the area.
"It's a little difficult," said Laforet.
"She'll count a certain area and say 'Okay I've got ten in this area, it takes up this amount of space — so this group is probably about two or three hundred, I've got several of those groups.' So eventually she can get to a place where she can say 'Okay we have roughly 10,000 monarchs down here in these various areas.'"