The Texas Butterfly Ranch was proud to present the

fifth annual Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we took our Festival online this year.

Twenty events unfolded October 1 – 29, 2020

The Festival takes place during peak monarch migration season in San Antonio, when migrating monarch butterflies east of the Rocky Mountains funnel through Texas on their way to Mexico to roost for the winter.

In response to the global pandemic, most events were virtual. All events were FREE, and many are still available on demand. We focused on the spiritual aspect of the monarch butterfly migration this year, and tagged butterflies in honor of loved ones’ lost to COVID-19, social injustice and other causes. The insects typically arrive in the high altitude mountains west of Mexico City by Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos.

Here’s what transpired.


More than 6,000 attended featured events during the festival
More than 4,000 viewed Nature’s Best Hope
367 viewed Pajaros as Pollinators
724 watched the Truth about Bats and COVID-19
864 Watched Pollinator to Plate
1584 watched 2020: A Metamorphosis
Native wildflower seed mixes distributed


800+ monarch butterflies were tagged
50 Altar kits were distributed
325 Loved ones were honored with a butterfly
30 Caterpillar condos were distributed
The Caterpillar Condo Teacher Training videos were viewed 248 times
16 teachers attended the Teacher Training at SARA
Monarch Butterfly & Pollinator Festival

Movie Screening: Paddling Lessons

On demand, all month.

Want to get out on the river but worried about keeping your social distance?

No worries! Steven Schauer and the good folks at the San Antonio River Authority have you covered.

For the month of October, we’re making Schauer’s “Paddling Lessons” movie available to watch at your convenience. The one-hour adventure takes you from San Antonio to the Gulf of Mexico’s San Antonio Bay via the San Antonio River.

The film includes 10 life lessons Schauer and friends learned while paddling the waters of San Antonio’s beloved life source.

Sponsored by the San Antonio River Authority 

DIY Pollinator Videos

The San Antonio Office of Sustainability presents two DIY videos on demand, all month, that will help you become a pollinator champion!

Learn to make a “flower bomb” with soil, seeds, a coffee filter, and some twine. These flower bombs can be easily planted to grow food for pollinators almost anywhere, just dig, drop, cover, and water.

You can also get schooled on creating a pollinator garden filled with flowers and foliage that provide pollen, nectar and fodder for pollinating insects.  Native plants preferred, since they grow naturally in our region and build a stronger and more resilient ecosystem.

FREE. Link to videos HERE.

Presented by San Antonio Office of Sustainability

Caterpillar Condos for Classrooms

Twenty-five Title-1 classrooms throughout San Antonio will receive a “caterpillar condo” on October 1.

The condos include a pop-up cage, a milkweed plant, a monarch caterpillar, a tag for citizen science tagging and observation, and a custom designed hands-on curriculum designed to be shared online.

Second grade students will learn the life-cycle of the monarch’s metamorphosis as it converts from from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly, then tag and release the butterfly to join the migration in late October.

Sponsored by Valero 


On demand, all month.

During October, you can learn more about the fascinating world of the stingless bees in the Yucatan.

More than 20,000 recorded species of bees exist around the world. While one species, the European honey bee, Apis Mellifera has managed to position itself as an insect of great economic, environmental and socio-cultural importance, it cannot be assumed that a single species represents the thousands of species on our planet.

Join us for this 35-minute movie about the stingless Melipona bees, bees & the Maya, and honey production in the Yucatan.

Presented by Merida UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy

Texas Pollinator Bio-Blitz Virtual Class

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM (CST)

Join Texas Nature Trackers Biologist Craig Hensley, Cibolo Nature Center’s Laurie Brown, and Minna Paul of the San Antonio River Authority for a two-hour workshop that will cover how to use citizen science app and platform iNaturalist. You’ll learn how to find, track and identify monarchs and other pollinators in your yard and the landscape and how to share data with scientists to create a more informed community.

Presented by Cibolo Nature Center and Farm

NPSOT- San Antonio Chapter Native Plant Sale

COVID-19 has made getting great native plants almost impossible–but help is on the way.

Our friends at the Native Plant Society of Texas San Antonio Chapter will offer a great selection of natives that suit San Antonio’s climate and geographic location–JUST in time for fall planting season.

Shopping will take place online for two days only–October 5 and 6. Plant pick-up will take place on Saturday, October 10 at EcoCentro.

Presented by the Native Plant Society of Texas San Antonio Chapter

CityFest 2020: “A Place of Refuge: San Antonio’s Role in Addressing Local Disasters.”

10:00 AM – 11:00AM (CST)

Join San Antonio report for their CityFest panel A Place of Refuge: San Antonio’s Role in Addressing Local Disasters with Steve Graham, Assistant General Manager at the San Antonio River Authority and Ana Sandoval District 7 Councilwoman. Moderated by Brendan Gibbons, Senior Environmental Reporter at the San Antonio Report.

From October 5 – 9, 2020, San Antonio Report will host its third annual San Antonio CityFest, a free virtual urban ideas festival. In response to the impact of the global pandemic and renewed call for racial justice, the theme of 2020 San Antonio CityFest is “Urban and Statewide Resilience.

Presented by San Antonio Report

Doug Tallamy, Author of Nature’s Best Hope

Doug Tallamy, New York Times best selling author of Nature’s Best Hope, is credited with introducing us to the idea of native plant landscaping. On October 8, Tallamy was our guest at a virtual presentation on why we should devote at least half of our yards and landscapes to native plants. Q & A followed.

Copies of Tallamy’s best-seller, complete with autographed bookplate, will be available at  San Antonio’s Twig bookstore until supplies last. Partial proceeds of books sold will benefit the San Antonio River Foundation and the Festival. To reserve your copy, visit this link.

Check out the video of Tallamy’s presentation below.

Sponsored by SAWS and the San Antonio River Authority

Witte Museum Pollinator Camp

9 AM – 3 PM

For the three-day weekend resulting from Columbus Day/Indigenous People’s Day, the Witte Museum will host a hands-on youth program focusing on pollinators.

In-person spots will be limited, but a virtual event with live interaction will also be part of the show.

Presented by the Witte Museum

Pajaros as Pollinators with Danielle Belleny

On October 15th, San Antonio wildlife biologist Danielle Belleny lead a tutorial on the intriguing role of birds as pollinators in our ecosystem. This lecture discussed local birds as pollinators, how you can identify them, and ways to help birds and pollinators in your own community. Danielle also discussed ways to be a better advocate for equity in outdoor recreational spaces.

Danielle Belleny

Danielle Belleny is a cofounder of Black Birders Week, as well as an avid birder and science communicator. She spoke on how birds make blossoms happen and increase plant fertility as disbursers of seed. She also spoke on improving inclusivity in outdoor recreation and resources for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color who are nature enthusiasts. Q & A followed.

Check out the video of Danielle’s presentation below.

Sponsored by Plateau Land & Wildlife Management

Environmental Justice Panel and Bikeride

Join Gardopia Gardens and partners to ride in solidarity for social justice, and then have a discussion on environmental and food justice!

For this event, a bike ride will be conducted from 11:00a – 12:00p down MLK to PECAN Valley Women, Infant, and Children Clinic, where a newly established pollinator garden has been built. After the bikeride, local social justice activists will discuss the intersectionality of food and environmental justice.

Presented by Gardopia Gardens

Teacher Training Workshop with Doug Tallamy

Best selling author of Nature’s Best Hope Doug Tallamy will lead a virtual teacher training workshop focused on native plant gardens in conjunction with the San Antonio River Authority.

The workshop is FREE to San Antonio public school teachers.

Sponsored by San Antonio River Authority

Dia de la Memoria/Day of Remembrance

To honor those who passed this year at the hands of COVID-19 and social injustice, we’ll construct an altar at Confluence Park designed by local artist José Sotelo.

Butterflies will be tagged in the names of lost family members, friends and loved ones. Their names will be entered on the data sheets sent to citizen science project Monarch Watch with the hope that the butterflies make it to Mexico.

If you’ve lost someone to COVID-19 or social injustice, please fill out this form to help us honor them and remember their names.

If your family member, friend or loved one’s tagged butterfly makes it to Mexico, is recovered, and reported, we’ll let you know.

Sponsored by San Antonio River Foundation

The Altar Project – Monarch Altar Kit Distribution

The Festival will distribute 50 free altar kits to members of the San Antonio community who have suffered the loss of someone one due to COVID-19 or social injustice so they can build a small altar or ofrenda in the safety of their home.

The kit will provide components of an ofrenda, assembled and created by local artists and overseen by San Antonio artist José Sotelo: candles, pan muerto, fabric dyed with marigold extracts by local artist Amada Miller, a rendition of a monarch butterfly, sugar skulls, marigold flowers, and a reusable art box. Altar construction directions included.

Altar kit distribution will be first come first serve.

If you have lost someone one and would like a free kit, please fill out this form.

Sponsored by the Awesome Foundation & HEB

Rodrigo Medellín, The Truth about Bats and COVID-19

Medellín, known as the Bat Man of Mexico, captivated audiences at last year’s Festival and returns for a special COVID-19 edition.  Medellín will school us on the truth about bats and coronavirus at this virtual presentation and join us us afterward for a Mezcal toast.

Join us us afterward for a Mezcal toast (made possible by bats)! Johnny Hernandez of La Gloria will be making pollinator-friendly batch cocktails available for purchase at La Gloria at the Pearl throughout the month of October. Want to make your pollinator-friendly cocktail at home? You can also reserve a cocktail kit for pickup via this link. A portion of the drink proceeds will go support the festival!

Sponsored by Katy & Ted Flato

Gardening for Monarchs and Other Pollinators

Join Bexar County Master Gardener Marybeth Parson for a virtual presentation on Texas-hardy and native flowering plants that provide food and nectar for monarchs and other pollinators, as well as color throughout the year. Parson will also touch on host plants and other pollinators.

Presented by the Bexar County Master Gardeners

Date Night: Bee my Honey with Cecile Parrish and Elizabeth Johnson

Pull up a chair and grab your date for a virtual cooking demo featuring a honey-inspired menu, a local honey tasting, and a bee 101 lesson with master beekeeper Cecile Parrish of EcoCentro and chef extraordinaire Elizabeth Johnson of Pharm Table.

Parrish will teach us how the honey gets in the jar while Johnson will demonstrate what to do with it to make an amazing meal. Honey from three local farms will be sampled and described in ways that will make your mouth water.

A meal kit to make your own honey-fueled feast will be assembled and available for purchase, so save the date for your date!

Sponsored by San Antonio Creative City of Gastronomy

Look Who’s Coming to Dinner! Create a Backyard Buffet for Butterflies, Birds & Other Guests

What’s on the menu in your garden?

Join us for a tutorial that will explain how the leaves, flowers, and fruits of the plants in your landscape determine the wildlife you attract.  “Plant Lady,” horticulturist, and restoration ecologist Lee Marlowe will share profiles of 10 amazing native plants and their animal visitors.

You’ll learn how to create a year-round garden buffet for bees, butterflies, birds and more during this virtual presentation.

Presented by San Antonio Chapter, Native Plant Society of Texas

Biodiversity without Borders: A Natural Pathway for Cooperation

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Canadian Consul General Rachel McCormick, and Mexican Consul General Dr. Ruben Minutti will kick off a two-part program on Biodiversity without Borders: A Natural Pathway for Cooperation with remarks on the USMCA Environment Chapter and the importance of collaborating on environmental and sustainability issues across borders.

As the first Monarch Champion City, San Antonio has become a leader in fostering and promoting the Monarch butterfly – and other pollinators – that links Mexico, Canada, and the US and serves as a potent symbol of North American cooperation.

An exciting surprise announcement will follow and then the program will conclude with a guided conversation by city representatives from Montreal, Guadalajara, and San Antonio and moderated by the staff lead for the international “CitiesWithNature” network (with Local Governments for Sustainability-USA). Topics will cover the importance of local policies in advancing biodiversity and how human existence is inter-dependent on the health of a natural world unconstrained by geographical and political borders imposed by humans.

Co-hosted by the City of  San Antonio & The World Affairs Council of San Antonio

2020: A Metamorphosis

Since we can’t gather in person for the festival this year, we’ve partnered with local filmmakers, Walley Films, to create a short documentary that takes a look at this challenging year through the lens of the migration and the metamorphosis of the monarch butterfly.

The film follows the monarchs’ 2020 multi-generation migration from Mexico on their journey north and back to Mexico in October. Viewers will appreciate the parallels between monarchs’ struggle to continue their life cycle and ours, in this year of a deadly pandemic, social unrest, and climate change. Join us for a story of learning and hope, as we encourage communities to work together to take care of our planet and each other.


Habitat Highway for Monarch Butterflies

Central Texas Gardener
October 2, 2020


Texas Butterfly Ranch - We Love the Whole Life Cycle


John & Florence Newman Foundation
Winkler Family Foundation
San Antonio River Authority
Rivard Report
San Antonio Water System
San Antonio City of Gastronomy
San Antonio River Foundation
The Pearl

Katy and Ted Flato

The Pearl
Steve and Marty Hixon
John and Ruth Agather
Rainbow Gardens


Mayor Ron Nirenberg * Roberto C. Treviño of District 1 * Jada Andrews-Sullivan of District 2 * Adriana Rocha Garcia of District 4 * Shirley Gonzales of District 5 * Melissa Cabello Havrda of District 6 * Ana Sandoval of District 7 * Manny Peláez of District 8 * John Courage of District 9 * Clayton Perry of District 10


Bexar County Master Gardeners * Cibolo Nature Center and Farm * Garcia Street Farms * Gardopia Gardens * Mark Menjivar * Native Plant Society of Texas San Antonio Chapter * Pharm Table * San Antonio Office of Sustainability * The Twig Book Shop * Trinity University * Witte Museum * World Affairs Council of San Antonio