Monarch butterfly by Chris Helzer.jpg

Monarch butterflies need the sun to warm them up before they fly off for the day.

Recently, I told you to keep an eye out for monarch butterflies coming through our area during their southward migration to Mexico.

I got lucky myself while at work earlier this week, as Kankakee Sands has been hosting thousands of roosting monarchs at our bison overlook area.

The bison overlook area sits upon an island of sand with scattered black oak and cherry trees.

As the monarchs travel south, they forage for nectar during the day and roost at night in clusters. The overlook area is surrounded by prairie with lots of blooming goldenrod and asters right now.

I first saw the mass of butterflies this past Saturday when I was hosting a hiking group at the overlook. I took my family back on Sunday to see if they were still there and made plans to get up early Monday morning to photography them.

I got up at 4 a.m. and got to Kankakee Sands just before sunrise. The butterflies need the sun to warm them up before they fly off for the day. Monday morning had a layer of fog, which worked to my advantage as it prolonged their roost by making the butterflies laden with dew.

From my previous sightings, I knew the butterflies were high up in the oak trees, so I grabbed a step ladder from our shop and drove over to the oaks.

The butterflies were still there in great numbers.

As the fog lifted, I saw more and more. The orange butterflies blend in so well with the changing colors of the oak leaves. Nature in harmony. Waking up early and exploring nature never disappoints.

Have you seen any monarchs roosting locally?

Let me know.

Reach Trevor Edmonson at