Butterflies without Borders: Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival set for October

Dust off your wings and save the dates: the 2017 Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival in San Antonio will take flight Friday – Sunday, October 20 – 22, 2017, celebrating the magic and majesty of the Monarch butterfly migration.

Save the dates!

For those unaware, millions of Monarch butterflies leave the Mexican mountains each spring and head north in a unique multigeneration migration. Taking their cues from the sun, they rouse themselves from a semi-hibernative state, mate and head north in search of milkweed on which to lay their eggs. Then they die.

The eggs hatch into caterpillars and later morph into adult butterflies which produce subsequent generations over the summer. Those butterflies continue north, following the milkweed, all the way to southern Canada.

Migration map

The eastern population of Monarch butterflies will be moving through San Antonio in late October during peak migration as they make their way to Mexico to roost for the winter. Graphic by Nicolas Rivard

Each butterfly only lives about a month, until fall when a “super generation” of Monarchs suspends reproduction to head south and migrate thousands of miles “home” to the Mexican forest where they roost until spring and start the cycle anew. Each fall, the migrating Monarchs pass through San Antonio and the “Texas Funnel” in late October–just in time for our Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival.

Our second annual Festival in San Antonio, a community collaboration by the Texas Butterfly Ranch and pollinator friendly private sector companies, public entities, and nonprofit organizations, will span three days during peak Monarch migration week in the nation’s first Monarch Butterfly Champion City, so declared by the National Wildlife Federation in 2015.

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The timely theme of this year’s Festival: Butterflies without Borders. Thanks to The Pearl, HEB, San Antonio River Authority, the John and Florence Newman Foundation and the Rivard Report for their support as Keystone Sponsors and making the second annual Festival possible.

Three days of festivities commence Friday, October 20 at the Pearl Stable with a scientific symposium: Butterflies without Borders: the Monarch Migration in our Changing Climate. The event features an international panel discussion and some of Monarch butterfly science’s most well-known advocates.

Dr. Chip Taylor will join us for a discussion ofpolitics and pollinators.

Dr. Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch, Elizabeth Howard of Journey North, Dr. Carlos Galindo Leal from the Ministry of Biodiversity in Mexico (CONABIO), and Louise Hénault-Ethier of the David Suzuki Foundation in Montreal will gather to discuss the changing political and atmospheric climate. The discussion of pollinators and politics will be moderated by Dan Goodgame. Tickets go on sale in early September.  For more information on the speakers, see our events page.

On Saturday, a series of educational events will take place. Howard will lead a teacher training workshop on how to use Monarchs in the classroom. Taylor will guide a butterfly walk and talk at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, and Hénault-Ethier will explain why we all need to eat insects instead of beef and chicken at a Bug Lunch at the Witte Museum.

Saturday evening, the Institute of Mexican Culture will host a Monarch butterfly themed art opening by artist Luis Moro, “Monarcas, Atravesando Fronteras/Monarchs, Crossing Borders.” The opening is FREE and open to the public.

The Earn-a-Bike Coop’s Pedaling Pollinators will lead the parade. Photo by Cristian Sandoval

On Sunday, the actual Festival takes place. The day starts with the People for Pollinators Parade led by the Pedaling Pollinators, San Antonio’s own pollinator friendly bicycle troupe, organized by our friends at the Earn-a-Bike Coop. Hundreds of tagged Monarch butterflies will catch the wind, joining their siblings for their flight to Mexico in two separate release events. Trained butterfly docents, led by Drake White of the Nectar Bar, will fan out into the crowd to educate Festival-goers on why and how we tag Monarch butterflies.

More than 20 members of our unofficial Pollinator Posse, myriad educational partners, will offer engaging activities at the Pearl while the Sunday Farmer’s Market takes place. SAWS will host a Butterfly Landscaping Workshop at the Pearl Studio. The Festival and all events on Sunday are  FREE and open to the public.

Dr. Chip Taylor predicts a rebound year for the butterflies, as the breeding population in the northern zones appears exceptionally healthy and robust. “In sum, this looks to be a good year for Monarchs,” Taylor wrote in his late season Monarch Population Status update in August.

Good rains this summer also suggest a bounty of late nectar blooms awaiting the butterflies when they pass through San Antonio to fuel up for the final leg in their long journey to the mountains of Michoacán to roost for the winter. Their passage through the Alamo City generally occurs during the last two weeks of October.

Our Festival deliberately coincides with the Monarchs’ arrival in our part of the world. Come join us as we wish them safe travels south.

Special thanks to our Keystone Sponsors for making this year’s Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival possible!

Check our events page for more details and schedules. We look forward to seeing you there. 

Sponsorship opportunities still available.  

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9 thoughts on “Butterflies without Borders: Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival set for October

  1. We attended last year and all the booths etc was fun However, the main theme Butterfly release was so disappointed so few we waited so long and it seemed like not even 50 butterflies flew about. Was there a problem last year? It was a disappointingly display. More butterflies at the zoo.

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