SDNHM Monarca: Butterfly Beyond Boundaries

Overview of the Exhibition

This exhibition closed January 6, 2002.

3 stages of the Monarch butterfly, as seen in the exhibit

Just in time to celebrate the arrival of Monarch butterflies in San Diego, we welcome the exhibition Monarca: Butterfly Beyond Boundaries, open October 6, 2001 through January 6, 2002.

For many San Diego and Baja California residents, the arrival of thousands of Monarch butterflies in our region represents an exciting opportunity to witness one of nature's most amazing spectacles first hand. Monarca brings this phenomenon to life and explains some of the mysteries surrounding the Monarch migration.

The exhibition, presented in English, Spanish, and French, takes a dynamic and interactive approach to presenting the life cycle, migration patterns, and environmental threats to Monarch butterflies. Featuring exciting interactive multimedia displays, games and costumes for children, oversized models, and live butterflies and plants, Monarca combines technology with living creatures to create an unforgettable educational experience for all ages.

Monarca features a 1000-square-foot walk-through Butterfly House (vivarium) where you can learn about all four stages of the Monarch life cycle. These include tiny eggs; yellow, black, and white striped caterpillars 2000 times their birth weight; soft jade green chrysalides in various stages of development; and finally the fully mature, beautiful adult butterflies.

The exhibition also explains how scientists solve certain "migration mysteries" by tagging Monarchs to track their migratory patterns. Drawing on real data provided by "taggers," an interactive computer display allows you to try your hand at tagging butterflies and following Monarch flight patterns across the United States into Mexico.

Experience the scope and exhilaration of an actual migration through the exhibition's large-scale audiovisual show. Journey thousands of kilometers from Canada through the U.S. to the endangered enclaves of Mexico's Oyamel fir forests. Along the way, find out how Monarchs know when to depart for the winter, when to stop for food, where the females lay their eggs, and many more interesting facts.

Learn how the future of the Monarch migration is threatened by habitat destruction in its overwintering sites throughout coastal California and the forests of Central Mexico. Populations of Monarch butterflies wintering in the San Diego region have decreased nearly 99 percent since 1997 due to a combination of factors including natural phenomena and human interference. Heightened butterfly predation, weather changes, competing insect populations, and building development all play a role in fluctuating Monarch numbers. In addition, many of the local red gum eucalyptus trees that host the butterflies in winter are falling prey to the lerp psyllid infestation.

The Museum's special addition to Monarca focuses on butterfly diversity in San Diego, local overwintering habitats, conservation efforts, and gardening tips to attract butterflies in our area. This "local focus" portion of the exhibition features a three-dimensional butterfly field guide that visitors can use to identify butterflies by their markings and learn where to find particular species in the San Diego region.

As the title of the exhibition indicates, nature knows no boundaries. The Monarch butterfly migration links Canada, the United States, and Mexico with a shared responsibility for the well-being of this species.

Monarca: Butterfly Beyond Boundaries was created by the Canadian Museum of Nature in collaboration with the Mexican conservation group Monarca, A.C., and the Canadian Nature Federation. It is presented by American Express Company, District 3 County Supervisor Pam Slater, The Heller Foundation of San Diego, The Arthur P. and Jeanette G. Pratt Memorial Fund, and Tiffany & Co.

Monarca | Exhibits