Monarch Butterflies

By April 4, 2018About the Bruns

After a really well received Summer pop-up bar collaboration with Aperol, Collet Champagne and Hotel Brunswick’s delicious oysters, we decided to do it all over again with a fresh new theme running from March through May.

This time we have been collaborating with the highly acclaimed Patron to bring you a Mexican pop-up bar which serves classic cocktails and themed food. It was a very easy decision, because who doesn’t love Mexican… right? As we started brainstorming a very touching story was revealed by our Owners and their connection with Mexico. The Magnificent Monarch butterfly became our mascot and below is their story: written by Delvene Cornell.

In the Summer of 1996, John and I experienced a most moving I-Max theatre presentation of the annual Monarch butterfly migration at a futuristic theme park in southern France. The viewing pod was completely glass, immersing us in the mass migration with butterflies under, over and in front of us. The dense roosting of the Monarchs on the Oyamel fir trees in Mexico was utterly beautiful, impressing John and I so deeply with the wonders of nature.

On our return to London, a newspaper article highlighted the plight of the Monarch, due to loss of habitat in their overwintering sites in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. As the incredible survival story of these tiny colourful creatures had so affected us, we decided to act.

We engaged an old friend, Chris Fradelos, to travel to Mexico to explore conservation options available in the small Mexican village of Michoacan, nearest to the Winter hibernation areas. But first we needed to know why this amazing natural phenomenon occurred…

Monarch butterflies are the only insect to migrate 4,000 km each Autumn, from Canada to Mexico, to avoid the cold Northern Winters, and to forage on larval plants along the migration path. Migrating Monarch butterflies use the very same trees each and every year, even though they aren’t the same butterflies that were there the previous year. These overwintering butterflies are the fourth generation of migrating Monarchs, as no individual butterfly completes the entire round trip. Female Monarchs lay eggs for the next generation on the return northward migration, and as the average life-span of a Monarch is a short two months, at least four generations are involved in the annual cycle.  The ability to find overwintering sites is an inherited trait, or genetic memory, contained in the butterfly’s antennae, and based on the position, angle and spectrum of the sun.

Overwintering Monarchs roost on Pine and Oyamel fir trees. Villagers near the sites had engaged in illegal logging of these trees, to sell as Christmas trees, decimating the hibernation habitats. To promote conservation, we employed the local villagers to plant one million trees, providing larval food, nectar plants, and overwintering  Oyamels. The La Cruz Habitat Protection Project and the MichoacanReforestration Project were born.

Pre-Hispanic Native Americans, the Purepecha and Otomi once occupied this area, tying the harvest of the corn to the arrival of the butterflies. The present local people, the Mazahua, have lived near the overwintering sites for centuries, so an annual feast day was funded and set aside to spiritually honour the return of the Monarchs, closely tied to the traditional Day of The Dead celebrations.

After ten years, and one million dollars, having reached our planting target, these projects were adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States of America, which continues to this day in their efforts to protect the Monarch butterfly.

The range of the Monarch is worldwide, with smaller migrations undertaken in Australia and New Zealand to groves of eucalyptus trees.  Almost every day we see them on our property, fluttering like air-borne flowers, dazzling the sky.

If you love these vibrant, hardy little butterflies as much as we do, please consider the following to ensure their continuing survival…

Don’t use pesticides in your garden, and plant their fodder food, Milkweed.

Avoid buying GMO food, to maintain plant diversity.

Donate to conservation programs dedicated to the protection of the Monarch.

Thank you,

Delvene Cornell