Do North American Monarchs Travel To Cuba?

Do North American Monarchs Travel To Cuba? [1]
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

It was assumed

that monarchs from eastern North America

migrated only to Mexico.

North American migrant monarchs that move to Cuba

hybridize with resident populations there

and do not return to the continent.

Migration to Cuba (and possibly the Caribbean)

is likely to be a one-way movement.

An extraordinary fall migration of up to 4,000 km.

The islands of Cuba, Jamaica, and Hispaniola

undoubtedly harbor indigenous sedentary subspecies.

Differences in behavior between temperate and neotropical monarchs.

The confusing mixtures present on the islands

to distinguish native from migrant individuals.

Notice the differences in general size,

forewing shape,


the close absence of the inner line of white spots

at the apex of the forewing:

the right fore- and hind wing of each dried specimens.

Migrants from North America

outnumbered Cuban residents in November.

There are three possible reasons:

1) they had died and/or we failed to collect them;

2) they returned to the United States,

most probably through the Florida peninsula;

3) they moved to other areas of Cuba and the Caribbean.

The extent to which Cuba may be a bridge

for migrants to the Yucatan


to other insular Caribbean areas,

now remains a question for further study.

[1] Dockx, Cristina, Lincoln P. Brower, Leonard I. Wassenaar, and Keith A. HobsonDo North American Monarch Butterflies Travel to Cuba? Stable Isotope and Chemical Tracer Techniques. In: Ecological Applications, 14(4), 2004, pp. 1106–1114.

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