Monarch Butterflies Travel Across America's Borders Without Visas

Each year, this butterfly species flies over Canada-US-Mexico borders.

ByABC News
October 23, 2012, 4:39 PM

Oct. 25, 2012— -- Immigration activists touring the United States on the Undocubus, recently adopted Mexicos' Monarch Butterfly as their symbol, due to its ability to freely move across borders.

The butterfly species, which migrates every year from Canada to Mexico, now stars in Flight of the Butterflies, a $12 million IMAX documentary that makes a powerful case for the conservation of this species.

Monarch butterflies cover thousands of miles throughout North America each year, spending summertime in Canada and always returning to a few mountaintops in Mexico's Michoacán state for their winter holiday. Until recently, however, the butterflies' Mexican refuge was a complete mystery. In 1975, Canadian zoologist Freud Urquhart's team discovered where the monarch's migration route ended.

Urquhart spent 40 years tracking the monarch butterfly's path. He located its travel destination with the help of Ken Brugger and Catalina Aguado, two Mexico City residents and nature enthusiasts who spotted the species during trips to Michoacán.

"Of course Dr. Freud Urquhart is really the reason why the butterflies were located because he hired us, my husband and I, to work with him and to look for them," Aguado said during the film's premiere in Mexico City earlier this month.

"It is very important to me that the butterflies are recognized as an insect that needs protection, and I believe this film is good reminder of that," Aguado said of the documentary, which tracks the butterflies as they depart from Canada, stop in Texas and make it to their final stop in Mexico.

The Mexican government invested around 4.7 million dollars in the production of the film and plans to show it all over the world, as part of its efforts to promote eco tourism in Mexico.

Since 2007, the monarchs resting place in Michoacán has been declared a natural Protected Area by the Mexican government. Illegal logging in the area has been almost eradicated thanks to the combined action of government agencies and local landowners.