2024 Edition

Jaime Rojo

Forest of the Monarchs

Fir trees covered with monarch butterflies in the El Rosario sanctuary, Mexico, 2023

Category - Into the forest

Forest of the Monarchs

Streaked with sunlight and crowded together for warmth in winter, monarch butterflies blanket fir trees in El Rosario Sanctuary, in Michoacán. It is cool and relatively moist at these high elevations and the monarchs have adapted to the same environmental conditions as the trees. Clustering monarchs are protected by the canopy and also by one another, so the slightest changes in the forest cover alter the delicate microclimate the butterflies have adapted to. Despite the conservation efforts that led to establishing a protected area, deforestation was still a problem in the early 2000's. A Mexican-led international coalition of governments and conservation nonprofits established a trust fund to work with the local communities and curb the deforestation rates, which have been steadily decreasing since 2009.

100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 Lens - 1/25 sec at f/8 ISO 800