In the midst of this year’s exceptional drought, ACU’s well-watered campus attracted an unusually large flock of monarch butterflies traveling south for the winter.
The butterflies’ annual 3,000-mile migration carries them east out of the Rockies through Abilene in route to Mexico in search of warmer weather, said Dr. Michael Nicodemus, assistant professor of agricultural and environmental sciences. Nicodemus said the butterflies only stay from 1-2 weeks.
“I took my Cornerstone class out by Sewell [Theatre], under a pecan tree for class last Wednesday,” Nicodemus said. “Class was not terribly productive in the usual sense, but I think they enjoyed seeing the butterflies.”
Briana Love, junior psychology major from Roanoke, said she enjoyed the sudden change in campus scenery brought on by the butterflies.
“The butterflies are beautiful and they make campus seem like a dream,” Love said. “It’s relaxing”
Emily Schuster, sophomore animal science major from Red Oak, said the butterflies’ pilgrimage to the Big Country was a special time for the campus.
“They are so amazing,” Schuster said. “It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be walking around completely surrounded by butterflies.”
Rachel Easley, sophomore pre-dental major from Belton, said the atmosphere of the butterflies serve as a spiritual reminder.
“The butterflies make me so happy,” Easley said. “What an awesome reminder that not only is God all-powerful but He creates and loves beautiful things.”
Humans do not view butterflies as nutritional delicacies, so many students are not aware that monarchs are poisonous. However, mammals that choose to take a bite out of the monarch soon feel their effects.
“Birds will tend to avoid them [after the first time they eat one] since the poison will make them sick,” Nicodemus said.
Nicodemus said the monarchs’ migration through Abilene has peaked and students should see less of the butterflies in the next week.