Question and Answer

How far can monarchs fly?

Every fall, North American monarchs fly south to spend the winter at roosting sites in Central Mexico or along the Pacific Coast. Monarchs are the only butterflies to make such a long, two-way migration. Eastern monarchs may fly up to 3000 miles in the fall to reach their winter destination, if they are coming from the far northern part of the eastern breeding range. If they are coming from a more southern area of the breeding range, they will have fewer miles to go.

Less is known about the timing and location of breeding and migratory movement in the western U.S. Usually, monarchs coming from west of the Rockies make a shorter journey to the coast of California. In some cases, western monarchs have been documented to fly long distances to Mexico rather than to closer sites in California!

During migration, monarchs will fly about 25-30 miles per day in general. When weather conditions are favorable, they may be able to go further, but poor weather conditions may also prevent them from traveling at all! Many factors influence how far monarchs can travel in one day, so it is quite variable.

You can help document the migration of monarchs, wherever you live, by contributing to monarch citizen science!

To learn more about monarch migration, visit our migration page, the University of Minnesota Monarch Lab, Journey North, or the Southwest Monarch Study.

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