Monarch butterflies migrate through Western North Carolina

Photo via @nansherryart

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Each fall, up to 500,000 monarch butterflies flee their homes in the eastern United States + southern Canada to ride out the winter in California and Central America. 

While this phenomenon was projected to peak Oct. 6, bivouacs (the moniker for a group) of these elegant insects have been spotted north of Asheville and in the immediate vicinity, so we think it’s still worth mentioning. The majority of the butterflies are expected to arrive at their roosting sites by November, where they will hunker down from the winter wind before migrating back north in March.

According to Explore Asheville, your best shot at locally observing this natural event is along high-elevation mountain ridges, including: 

  • Wagon Gap Road parking area (Milepost 412.2)
  • Pounding Mill Overlook (Milepost 413.2)
  • Cherry Cove Overlook (Milepost 415.7)
  • Black Balsam summit (Milepost 420.2)
Each red dot signifies a self-reported sighting of migrating monarchs. | Screen grab via Journey North

This interactive map from Journey North, which lets you track and report sightings, also indicates that hundreds of butterflies have been spotted in residential garden beds and pollinator gardens

Want to support this ~3,000 mile journey? Cultivating pollinator-friendly plants such as milkweed, black-eyed susans, coneflowers, and beyond, can help supply the resources + nutrition needed by butterflies to make the long haul.

Pro tip: You can also check out our guide to building a pollinator-friendly garden for more specific guidance.