Monarch migration: Experts say now is the best time to see the natural phenomenon

Courtesy of Wisconsin DATCP
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV)-- If you see a burst of orange in your ordinarily green-colored leaves, it’s not a sign of the Autumn color change, but a different natural phenomenon.

People in Dane County have spotted the orange and black-winged Monarch butterflies in huge numbers recently.

Wisconsin falls along the Monarch migration trail as the butterfly heads to Mexico. Karen Oberhauser, director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Arboretum, said she has seen huge clusters in trees along the south edge of Curtis Prairie by the Leopold Pines.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Monarchs like this,” said Oberhauser. “I have seen them like this before, but not in the last decade.”

Oberhauser said the butterflies had a great spring along the Gulf Coast and they had a successful migration north. Since Monarchs do not fly at night, they roost in trees before they continue on their journey to the South. Oberhauser said the best time to see the clusters would be closer to dusk.

At Schumacher Farm Park near Waunakee, they were spotted between the farmhouse and the chicken coop, and on overhanging branches of several black walnut trees. Staff there said on Monday the Monarchs have moved on.

According to Schumacher Farm Park, it might be hard to notice them at first because their closed wings may look like dead leaves.

Experts say Monarchs will travel as far as 3,000 miles to reach their destination in Mexico from as far north as Nova Scotia. Migration through Wisconsin typically begins at the end of August and it can last six weeks or more, according to Friends of the Monarch Trail.

The Southern Wisconsin Butterfly Association (SWBA) recommends bringing binoculars and cameras to capture the Monarch clusters as they roost.