A unique experience is waiting for you at the Forgotten Coast this fall. The monarch migration is one of the most scientifically puzzling and curious experiences in Franklin County. It’s a bucket list “must-see” item for butterfly lovers, entomologists, and naturalists alike.
Each year, up to 500,000 radiant monarch butterflies begin their migration from as far north as chilly Eastern Canada and reach their warm destination in Mexico. Within around two months and thousands of miles, these rare creatures softly land in a mountainous region of Mexico. The Forgotten Coast is lucky to be their last stop on the migration path before the monarchs travel across the Gulf.
Most insects don’t migrate, making the monarch butterfly a natural anomaly. Since the lifespan of these gentle insects is 3 to 5 weeks, it takes up to 5 generations of monarchs to complete the migration, and the butterflies that reach that mountain range in Mexico are not the same monarchs that began migrating. It is a phenomenon that science doesn’t wholly understand.
There are many legends about these sacred creatures and their migration. These legends say that monarch butterflies are souls coming back from the dead, deceased family members coming back to visit their living relatives as butterflies, or spirits of the forest and messengers of the Gods. In Christianity, a butterfly’s metamorphosis from a caterpillar into something more beautiful and sublime is a symbol of the resurrection.
A Native American legend says that if you have a wish, you must capture a butterfly, whisper that wish to it, and set it free. This quiet, flitting butterfly will carry your secret desire to the Great Spirit, who knows and sees all. And because you caught and released the sacred creature, the heavens will grant your wish.
When the butterflies arrive, you will spot these fluttering creatures anytime you are outdoors, flying overhead, resting on bushes and trees, and sometimes at the beaches. They are everywhere! And, for particularly extraordinary views, bring your hiking boots and your camera to one of Franklin County’s unspoiled parks.