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Courtesy of the Butterfly Pavilion

The Monarchs Are Coming! Here’s Where to Spot Them

The beautiful orange butterflies are on their annual migration south—and now is the time to see them throughout Colorado.

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Millions of monarch butterflies are charging 3,000 miles south right now, fleeing Canada’s harsh winter for Mexico’s milder one. Lucky for us in Colorado, this beautiful, massive fluttering passes straight over our state, giving us the chance to spot these majestic creatures in full flight throughout September.

“You can tell the migrating monarchs because they look like monarchs with a mission,” says Kathryn Hokamp, lepidopterologist at the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster. “Unless they’re eating, they’re headed south.”

These are the super generation of monarchs, which means that they’re bigger, stronger, and live eight times longer than their parents and grandparents. During their grand migration, the longest of any butterfly species, the monarchs leave Canada in August and arrive in Mexico just in time for the Day of the Dead in early November. There, they hang out together in huge clusters for protection and warmth, biding their time until spring when they, or rather their offspring, head back north to Canada. The spring migration is slower, as those monarchs don’t live nearly as long as the super generation, stopping to mate, lay eggs, and die off. “It’s just not quite as intense. It’s over a much longer time period,” Hokamp says.

Translation? Right now is prime time for monarch viewing, and we’re about as far west as the butterflies go. (They stay on our side of the Rockies.) Here, Hokamp’s tips on how to catch—just not literally—this incredible sight:

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