Migrating monarch butterflies part of Abilene family’s annual tradition

Local News

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Despite 90-degree temperatures, it really is fall. You may notice the typical color changes that come with it, but more than just leaves paint the landscape. It’s time for the monarch butterflies to return. 

Growing up in the Musgrave household, tracking monarch butterflies was the highlight of the season.

Abilene resident McKinley Charleville says she spent most of her childhood outdoors with her sister and father, biologist Gary Musgrave.

“For some reason it just stuck with me and I still to this day, this is my absolute favorite time of the year, favorite season. I like it even better than Christmas,” she says. 

Musgrave says teaching his daughters about monarch butterflies really opened their minds for adventure.

“The monarchs gave them a chance to get hands on and help their daddy with tagging,” said Musgrave. 

“He would get us up and we would come tag the monarchs and we learned all about the caterpillars and what they like to eat,” Charleville said. 

Making the experience of being a “girl dad” a wonderful one.  

“It was incredible because it’s really bonded us a lot. I’m a photographer and so I would always take photos of the girls with monarchs on them,” said Musgrave. 

This time every year, millions of monarch butterflies leave the northeastern portions of the United States and Canada after spending their summer months living and breeding there. For the past 30 years, the butterflies always stop to rest in the trees of the Charleville family home. 

“Somehow, some way they always remember to come back here and to roost in our trees and to stay here. I’m very thankful that we can provide a home for them until they move on with the next cold front and really head to their final destination,” said Charleville.  

Musgrave says they then travel around 3,000 miles to reach their winter home in southwestern Mexico. 

“It’s a lot of fun just two or three weeks out of the year, but it can kind of take your mind off of the tough things that are going on in the world today,” said Musgrave. 

Charleville even took it upon herself to keep the family tradition alive by moving into the home she grew up in.

“I couldn’t imagine it getting out of the family, so we had to get it. We had to move in,” said Charleville. 

To find out more about how you can tag and track monarch butterflies yourself, click here.  

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