The mysterious migration of monarch butterflies is the subject of "Flight of the Butterflies," a film returning to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.

The spectacular ‘Flight of the Butterflies’ returns to Fernbank Museum 

Based on a remarkable true story, the film immerses audiences in a journey that spans thousands of miles and several generations -- tracking real monarch butterflies to their Mexican winter haven where audiences will discover a truly spectacular sight: hundreds of millions of butterflies butterflies.

The documentary “Flight of the Butterflies”  returns to Fernbank Museum
Photo: American-Statesman Staff

What began with a small boy daydreaming about where butterflies went each winter became a lifelong pursuit by 

Fred Urquhart, a scientist who spent 40 years trying to discover the mysteries surrounding their journey and secret winter hideaway.

Urquhart enlisted the help of legions of volunteers, known as “citizen scientists,” to help with tagging and tracking the butterflies. The decades-long quest yielded the ultimate discovery of the monarch butterflies’ overwintering sites in the sanctuaries of Mexico. 

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Through spectacular Giant Screen technology, audiences are transported into the tiny world of one intrepid creature – Dana (Danaus Plexippus) – and her offspring as they migrate north from Mexico through the U.S. to Canada and back south again to the captivating hidden butterfly sanctuaries set 10,000 feet high in the mountains of the States of Michoacán and Mexico. 

The iconic monarch butterfly is a true marvel of nature. Weighing less than a penny, it makes one of the longest migrations on Earth across a continent, yet with pinpoint navigational accuracy, to a place it has never been. While much has been learned, scientists are still unraveling the many inter-related aspects of this phenomenon of the natural world. As the film illustrates, it takes two to three generations of butterflies to migrate north from Mexico through the U.S. to Canada and one “super generation” to complete the migration back south to Mexico.  

Monarch butterflies overwinter in Mexico then flap up to the US and Canada in spring and summer.

“The monarch butterfly migration is one of nature’s greatest feats, making it a perfect pairing with the new exhibit Nature’s Superheroes: Life at the Limits,” said Jessy Nuckolls, a life science educator at Fernbank Museum, in a press release. “We love this movie because it showcases one of nature’s tiniest superheroes, and also because it starts with a child’s curiosity about nature.” 

“Flight of the Butterflies 3D” daily at 10 a.m., 12 noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. (except holidays). Will also be shown Friday evenings during Fernbank After Dark events. Now through Jan. 10. $8-$13. 767 Clifton Rd., Atlanta. 404-929-6400,

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