By Mohmoud Chikh-Ali
Each fall, millions of monarch butterflies fly south to Mexico in a chain of four generations. There, the butterflies spend the winter clinging to branches in the forests of Michoacán and Mexico State, then return to the United States and Canada in the spring. These orange and black butterflies form one of the best-known spectacles to nature lovers, highlighting conservation and cultural ties between the United States and Mexico.
Unfortunately, severe weather, climate change, and shrinking habitats have ravaged the monarch butterfly population. This year, conservation advocacy groups added the migratory monarch butterfly to their endangered list, saying the insect’s population has decreased sharply over the past decade. The International Union for Conservation of Nature group went as far as to say that the western monarch population is at greater risk of extinction.
The U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey is working to turn this around. Last year, in 2022, the consulate’s Green Team partnered with Facilities Management at post to have the consulate garden certified by the National Wildlife Federation. The consulate celebrated this certification on Earth Day. The process and the certification requirements helped the Green Team find creative ways to make the consulate garden a haven for butterflies traversing across Mexico. The strategically placed signage at the consulate helped start several conversations with guests, including during the Fourth of July celebration held in the consulate garden.
Throughout the consulate grounds, the thoughtfully planted native trees and flowers attract butterflies, helping the monarchs make the migration as they descend on the mountains of central Mexico. The Green Team solicited and collected community contributions of additional plants for the consulate, adding to its already substantial vegetation.
Three decades ago, one billion butterflies made the striking annual migration. This year, that number was at just over 20 million. ConGen Monterrey is proud to invest in conservation practices and community awareness to help the butterfly migration return to its original strength.
Mohmoud Chikh-Ali is a consular officer and a member of the Green Team at the U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey.