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Newswest 9 | Midland, Texas | newswest9.com

Monarch butterflies return to West Texas

The state insect of Texas travels through the Permian Basin each Fall on their 3,000-mile migration to Mexico

MIDLAND, Texas — Monarch butterflies are back in West Texas!

Michael Nickell, a naturalist at Sibley Nature Center, says he's seen several arrive in their gardens over the past few days.

"They might reach their peak probably in the first, maybe the second week of October," Nickell says.

The butterflies are nearing the end of what, for some, is a 3,000-mile journey from the northern U.S. and Canada all the way to Mexico.

Credit: U.S. Forest Service

These butterflies are what's known as a super-generation, meaning instead of laying eggs, they save that energy in order to migrate

"Basically, their reproductive cycles are on hold, and that increases their lifespan so they can make this great, long-distance flight," Nickell explains

Back in February, Sibley applied for a grant through Monarch Watch, a program sponsored by the NRDC Green Gifts Program.

In April, the grant was approved, and the nature center received 50 Ziote milkweed plants, a favorite snack of the butterflies. 

Nickell hopes this attracts even more monarchs so that everyone can continue to learn about and appreciate these amazing insects.

"The amazing thing about it is, something that's scarcely heavier than a postage stamp that's able to fly somewhere they've never been before, that's some 3000 miles away... it's pretty amazing."

With the grant money, Sibley Nature Center was also able to purchase caterpillars, which you see in the Youth and Family Gardens. 

Soon, the caterpillars will form their chrysalis and will emerge as monarch butterflies later this Fall.