By Nelson Groom
This magical footage shows millions of monarch butterflies swirling through the air like confetti as they finish their 3,000-mile migration to Mexico.
Each year, the colourful insects journey from their breeding grounds in the northern states of America and Canada to mountainous forests in central Mexico.
Spellbinding footage showing the monarch butterflies reaching their destination of Michoacán’s monarch sanctuary and gliding around in dreamlike scenes has racked up millions of views online.
Texas travel agent Tiffany Figueiredo, who filmed the viral footage, was moved to tears by the majestic insects – which locals believe are the souls of their fallen loved ones paying them a visit.
Tiffany, 48, said: “I was so emotional, I just started laughing and crying at the same time. I was overcome with joy.
“We were completely surrounded, and they were softly bumping into us the whole time and it was as if they were floating around like confetti.
“We had been the day before but there was not so many around, but the second time around the sun poked out and they all just came to life.”
As temperatures fall, the butterflies desert their breeding and feeding grounds in order to secure a safe haven to wait out the winter.
Weighing just 0.25 to 0.75 grams, the black and orange creatures are unlike other species that embark on vast migrations as none of the individuals will ever return.
Extraordinarily, their lives only last a few months each, so the butterflies that reach Mexico are several generations removed from the ones who last departed it.
Inside the sanctuary, the millions of monarchs huddle together on the branches of fir trees and lay eggs which hatch in a matter of days.
Their offspring then head part of the way back north to Texas, where they lay eggs in order for their offspring to again carry on with the perilous journey.
Tiffany, who filmed the clip late last month, said: “We had no idea what to expect, because it was about an hour hike up into the forests and you have to be accompanied by a guide from Journey Mexico.
“There’s actually a travel warning advising US citizens not to visit this region because of cartel activity, but there was nothing going on that I saw and I strongly recommend people try this.
“This is the end of the migration, where they lay eggs and begin the journey back, or they die there. It’s the end of their life cycle.”
Tiffany said she had never seen anything like it before and plans to one day return to the same destination.
She said she was ‘stunned’ her video has gone so viral, and said it was interesting viewers were divided between those warmed by the clip and those terrified by it.
And Tiffany mentioned one more side to the phenomenon that compelled her curiosity.
She added: “Because the monarchs arrive in Mexico around Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), many locals feel that the butterflies are the souls of departed loved ones returning to visit them.
“It’s pretty magical!”