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FOX West Texas Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Abilene and San Angelo, Texas | myfoxzone.com

Monarch butterflies flutter through Texas as they head south for the winter

It is that time of year when San Angelo and the rest of Texas are a stopping point for butterflies as they start their migration period.

SAN ANGELO, Texas — They are iconic because the unique design they have on their wings. They are monarch butterflies and they are making their trip down south with Texas is on their map.

From September to October, butterflies travel in swarms and some travel from Maine all the way down to Mexico.

One of the most notable of the winged insects traveling is the monarch butterfly.

"The monarchs are a pretty special butterfly in that they have a pretty large migration," Tom Green County Horticulture Extension Agent Allison Watkins said. "Not all butterflies migrate some hibernate."

If you were to walk outside, you’d see more than 20 flying around, and San Angelo State Park Assistant Superintendent Jarret Miller explains during this time, it does bring more people to the park.

The butterflies are more than just show, they help the ecosystem because they are pollinators.

"Butterflies also help as they travel from plant to plant," Watkins said. "They'll take a little bit of a pollen with them so the plant can continue to grow and not go extinct."

Butterflies even lend farmers a helping hand. As they travel south, they will lay their larvae on milkweed plants. Milkweed plants do contain poison and are dangerous to grazing animals such as bison, deer and cattle.

"They their eggs on milkweed and it is the only kind of plant to lay their eggs on," Watkins said. "So, the caterpillars will feed on milkweed plants that's their only food source."

Watkins does want everyone to understand butterflies play a role in our ecosystem, and it is important people do not try to catch them.

"The best way to enjoy butterflies, is just to watch them and let them do their thing," Watkins said. "You know, handling them too much can be damaging to them."

The butterflies will continue to migrate all the way through the end of October.