Things That Matter

Climate Change Is Killing Mexico’s Famous Monarch Butterflies And Here’s Why That’s Such A Big Deal

Every year, hundreds of millions of Monarch butterflies travel up to 3 thousand miles in their annual migration from Canada and the United States, to their wintering home in Mexico. Once there, the monarchs set camp in the Oyamel Fir trees of Michoacan, Mexico. After years of increasingly declining populations, monarch butterflies could be making a comeback across North America.

The ‘Monarca’ butterfly has started to descend upon the Mexican forests of Michoacan.

The beautiful butterflies have started their annual fall migration, and early reports from observers suggest that more of them are making the trek than in years past. The increase is attributed to good weather conditions during the migration period, as well as larger numbers of milkweed, an important food source, along their path.

The brightly-colored butterfly starts its long migration in October and heads back North toward the end of Winter in January.

Come October when temperatures start to drop in Canada and the United Sates, millions of  beautiful black and orange monarch butterflies start their mesmerizing migration, which sees them flapping south, nearly 3 thousand miles to the center of Mexico. These butterflies cluster into Pine and Oyamel trees in the forests of Michoacan.

The massive migration of monarch butterflies still remains a mystery to researchers.

A lot is still unknown about how the butterflies are able to find their way to Mexico every fall — or how they make the return trip north to Canada and the northeastern United States come spring. One thing we do know is that when the weather starts warming up in the U.S., they’ll head back north from Mexico, stopping in southern states like Texas and Louisiana to mate and lay eggs, which quickly become caterpillars that transform into butterflies that continue flying north bit by bit, mating (and dying) along the way.

Another thing that’s become clear in recent years is that monarch butterfly populations are dwindling.

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In fact, over the last two decades, more than a billion —yes, billion— butterflies have disappeared. One reason is the decline of milkweed, mostly a result of herbicides. Milkweed is the only plant on which monarch butterflies can lay their eggs — and the only food caterpillars feed on before turning into butterflies.

Although, monarch butterflies have not yet been declared a threatened species, the prospects of future migrations are unsure.

Recent figures indicate that the number of monarch butterflies arriving to Mexico has been far lower than usual. The monarch butterfly biosphere reserve is located in the central Mexican Mountains. The creation of this biosphere reserve was to protect the forests and butterflies that overwinter there.

Surprisingly, this year started out well for the eastern monarchs.

The NRDC cites a count of monarchs in Mexico last winter that showed more than double the previous year’s number. It was the highest number in 10 years! Now that the southward migration is on, monarch lovers are hopeful that the population will remain strong. Civilian butterfly boosters are spotting the colorful road warriors on their journey.

One key way that the butterfly fans encourage the monarchs on their annual odyssey is by planting milkweed.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, the loss of milkweed plants in both urban and rural areas is a big reason why monarch populations have dipped, and the success of milkweed restoration projects may be contributing to their return. Fortunately, word is spreading about the need to bring back milkweed.

Tourists can visit 3 reserve areas that are open to the public: El Rosario in Ocampo the most popular, one. It receives visitors from November to March. And it also offers guided tours. Sierra Chincua in Angangueo is easy to visit, and finally, the most perfect among the three is Cerro Pelon. These reserves are visited by many Mexican and international tourists from Canada, United States, Germany, Japan, France and Spain.

The town of Angangueo, located in far eastern Michoacan celebrates the ‘Monarch Butterfly Festival.’

In the year 1922, Angangueo decided to start a festival to promote awareness of the habitat of butterflies and the arts and culture of the area, all proceeds from the festival go back to protecting the butterfly biosphere reserve as well as local indigenous groups.

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Mexico Wants American Tourists Despite Ongoing Covid Pandemic

Culture

Mexico Wants American Tourists Despite Ongoing Covid Pandemic

VV Nincic / Flickr

Covid-19 has ended a lot of stuff for a lot of people. The most obvious change has been to international travel, especially for Americans. As the virus has spread widely across the U.S. countries have put a halt to allowing American tourist within their border, but not Mexico.

Covid-19 has severly depreciated the American passport.

Once capable of unlocking so many countries, the U.S. passport is no longer helping Americans travel abroad. Instead, the American passport has now become a hindrance for global travelers. Most countries have placed restrictions on American tourists making the U.S. passport one of the weakest.

The countries banning the U.S. are doing so because of the state of the virus in the country.

There have been more than 7 million cases of Covid-19 and more than 200,000 deaths from the virus. The U.S. remains the worst hit country and the global epicenter of the deadly virus. Many blame the lack of a national strategy to properly close down, test citizens, and contact trace those who have been exposed as the reason the virus has been so devastating in the U.S.

The various travel bans have kept families apart.

Other nations went into mush stricter lockdowns that the U.S. and got a handle of the virus. European countries have gotten the virus under control after months and the U.S. continues to see a large number of new cases daily.

One of the countries allowing Americans to visit is Mexico.

Mexico is heavily reliant on the money made from the tourism industry. According to official statistics, the tourism industry is the third-largest contributor to the country’s GDP. Major tourist destinations like Cabo and Cancún saw dramatic dips in tourism leading to national and local figures to sound the alarm. According to The Washington Post, the questions was posed about when to allow the tourists from the U.S. back, not should they.

Los Cabos is one of the hardest-hit tourist destinations.

The tourist destination saw a severe decline in tourists during one of the busiest times of the year. According to The Washington Post, the resort city has lost 80 percent of its revenue because of Covid-19. The virus has brought financial devastation to people across the world and the cities they live in aren’t immune to failing themselves.

“It’s life or death for us,” Rodrigo Esponda, the head of the Los Cabos tourism board, told The Washington Post. “There’s nothing else here. No industrial production. No farming or commercial fishing. It’s tourism or nothing.”

Yet, Los Cabos should be a warning sign to the rest of Mexico.

Cases in Baja California, the state where Los Cabos is located, saw new Covid case numbers triple from 50 a day to 150. The increase in infections is to be expected as the state rolled out the welcome mat for Americans coming to visit the resort town.

“There are some residents who say, ‘Why put my family’s life in danger by inviting more visitors, restarting more flights?’” Luis Humberto Araiza López, tourism minister of Baja California Sur, told The Washington Post. “It’s a delicate line between trying to support public health and economic growth.”

Despite this, there are some countries that Americans can travel to.

The countries Americans can travel to without Covid restrictions are Albania, Belarus, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Mexico, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, and Zambia. As the world continues to open up, Americans who travel abroad are waiting for the U.S. government to get the virus under control. Until then, the U.S. passport is not the same it used to be.

READ: The U.S. Passport Was Once The World’s Strongest, It’s Fallen To 25th Place Thanks To Failed Leadership Amid Coronavirus

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You Can Order A ‘Taco Vacuna’ And ‘La Cura’ At This Covid 19-Themed Taqueria

Culture

You Can Order A ‘Taco Vacuna’ And ‘La Cura’ At This Covid 19-Themed Taqueria

Tacovid: SaborViral / Facebook

Pandemia. Brote. Vacuna. La Peste. Although you may find these terms in a glossary about the Covid-19 outbreak, that’s not what these words actually refer to. Instead, they’re options on the menu at a Mexican taqueria called “Tacovid: Sabor Viral”, a perhaps surprisingly very successful Coronavirus-themed restaurant.

Although to many having a Covid-themed taqueria may seem morbid or disrespectful or perhaps gross – I mean who wants to order a plague taco? – the taqueria is making light of a very serious situation with humor. Something that several other businesses have done since the pandemic began.

”Tacovid: Sabor Viral” is the Mexican taqueria going viral – pun intended – for its Covid-themed menu.

Ok…virus-themed tacos don’t exactly sound appetizing. Especially, as we’re still in the midst of a very real pandemic. But one 23-year-old man in the Mexican city of León, who was forced to close down his dance studio because of Coronavirus, is counting on a Covid-themed restaurant – and so far he’s been surprised by its success.

Brandon Velázquez converted his dance academy into a taquería at the end of July, and given that Mexico and the rest of the world was – and is – in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic decided to call it Tacovid Sabor Viral.

“I had to close my dance academy during the pandemic [but] then an opportunity arose to return to the same place, however, people still did not go out for fear of getting infected.” he told the newspaper El Universal.

“I had always wanted to open a taqueria and, at the end of July, the opportunity to do so occurred. It was how I took advantage of the moment to create this business with a coronavirus theme,” he added.

Items on the menu are named after – you guessed it – the Coronavirus and don’t sound like anything you’d willfully choose to order.

The young entrepreneur detailed the name of each dish, taking full advantage of the Coronavirus theme.

“We have around 12 different dishes, among them are the ‘Tacovid’; we have ‘Forty’, ‘Quesanitizing’, ‘Pandemic’, ‘Outbreak’, and many others. The price varies depending on the dish you order,” he told El Universal.

In addition to themed dishes, the servers also fit the Coronavirus-theme.

When the pandemic hit Mexico, the government urged Mexicans to observe “su sana distancia” and the now common mascot – Susana Distancia – was born.

“In the restaurant, a waitress dressed as a nurse with the name of ‘Susana’ takes orders and works the tables, referring to the healthy distance campaign that was implemented as a precautionary measure,” he says.

To his surprise – and honestly mine as well – the taqueria has been very successful.

Brandon told El Universal that he’s been pleasantly surprised by the support he has received from customers. “I’m surprised because we have had really good sales, despite the circumstances, we have had a lot of support by the community and we’ve already expanded to have two locations.”

“Customers are funny about the theme we are using in the business, and they are delighted with the dishes we are offering. They enjoy it and have a good time,” added Brandon.

Things are looking so good for Brandon and his Covid-themed taqueria, that he’s looking to expand the food business and add new dishes to the menu. “There is always the idea of new names for other dishes that we want to include in the menu.”

Brandon also said that he’s looking to build out a business model so the restaurant could expand to other parts of the country as a franchise.

Apparently, people are really into Covid-themed foods, as this isn’t the first place that a shop as cashed in on the pandemic. Back in April, a panadería was selling out of Covid-themed baked goods so quickly, they couldn’t keep the shelves stocked.

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