Monarch Migration Update: September 20, 2002
Today's Report Includes:
Highlights Along the Migration
The migration pressed southward in the Midwest last week, and the East had
its first clear migratory push. Here are notes from observers:
Monarch Wave Moves into
Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma
"I'm very excited to report what looks like a small migration coming
through downtown Kansas City, MO, today (09/16/02) . I noticed several
individuals floating by our office windows this morning. A great day
for flying - little breeze, sunny, temperature around 70 F. They seem
to be flying at tree level heights, over 50 feet and above. Easy flying,
just floating along with very little effort."
Monarchs nectaring during strong sounth wind.
"Several students came back to school this week excited about seeing
monarchs over the weekend. They reported seeing groups of 7 to 20,"
wrote the St. Joseph 4th grade in Lincoln, NE on 09/16/02.
"We were sitting on the deck early this morning and happened to
look up to see several monarchs flying very high, much higher than normal.
It dawned on me that they were migrating! What a wonderful way to teach
my homeschooled child about the migration of the monarch!" wrote
Beth Allen on 09/16/02 from Shawnee, KS.
Migration Picks Up in the East
this week we have been enjoying the continued migration of monarchs
south," wrote Mrs. Olsen's class in Mystic, CT. "So far Tuesday
(9/17/02), was the highest number of monarchs.....about 12 on the bushes
all day long every time we checked."
"Beginning on Monday (9/16/02), and then again on Tuesday and Wednesday,
our First Graders noticed a single monarch gliding around on the playground
as they played," reported Ms. Donahue from Horseheads, NY.
have been watching for monarchs. Though we have not located roosting
sites, we average about 2 monarchs every minute between the hours of
3:00 PM and 6:00 PM. Most monarchs are attracted to the still blooming
buddleia bushes many families have," reports Ms. Nelson's on behalf
of her 7th grade students in Erie, PA.
"Watching them drift in large circles before lighting again on
a new flower takes me right out of time," wrote Michael Bero from
Toronto. "This past weekend I was pleasantly surprised to find
more monarchs then any other time this season."
At an observation post on the Atlantic Coast, people have been monitoring
migration every day each fall for the past 11 years! "Results of
our daily road census are being posted on a weekly basis between now and
the end of October," says Dick Walton. Do you think you can detect
the migration building and moving down the Atlantic Coast?
Migration Math: Who Saw the
Last week we practiced estimating the numbers of monarchs at an overnight
roost. "Our 2nd grade class made an estimate of approximately 100 butterflies
in the photo," wrote Ms. Strobel's students from Rockford, MI.
of Tim Mostrom
Now let's estimate the pace of migration when monarchs are traveling overhead.
Here's an important tip: When you watch for monarchs, watch your watch!
Record the number of monarchs you see and the number of minutes you watch
for monarchs. Then calculate the migration rate. For units, use monarchs
per minute (or monarch per hour). By calculating the migrate rate, you can
compare one observation to the next. Here are some examples people reported
this week. Who saw the most monarchs?
- Observer #1) "I
noticed several individuals floating by our office windows this morning.
I went outside and was able to observe for 20 minutes. I counted 24
- Observer #2) All students have been
watching for monarchs. We average about 2 monarchs every minute between
the hours of 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm."
- Observer #3) "I counted 17 on
my 30 minute drive home yesterday."
- Observer #4) "Twenty five Monarchs
were seen flying by within a 15 minute time period."
- Observer #5) "About 13 Monarchs
were counted traveling south between 11:00-12:00 noon."
- Observer #6) "I counted 9 in
a space of 15 minutes."
Challenge Question #4:
"Who saw the most monarchs? In your answer, use the same units
to compare the number of monarchs (either monarchs/hour or monarchs/minute).
Arrange the observations in order, from the observer who saw the most
to fewest monarchs."
(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions
Here's a worksheet if you'd like to practice more migration math:
Wind and Migration
Discussion of Challenge Question #3
As Mr. Viger's graph shows, numbers of monarchs at his overnight roost seem
to build and build during south winds. Then, when the wind shifts to the
north, their numbers drop. Challenge Question #3 asked, "What relationship
do you see between wind and migration? Explain why you think monarchs might
behave this way."
The 4th and 5th graders at St. Bernadette's in Kansas City, MO, did a
great job thinking through the problem! Here's what they did:
We broke it up into 3 parts.
Part 1; Patterns in the Wind: We noticed that the
wind direction went N and S. Some said it went se,se,se ne se,se,se
Part 2; Relationship between wind and migration:
We said that if the wind isn't blowing the right way; from the North,
the Monarchs stay at the roosting site.
Part 3; Why butterflies do this?; We thought that
butterflies stay around the roost because it would be hard to fly into
the wind. The wind would push them backwards. So they rest up and eat
and then take off with the next North wind.
Teacher Forum: Let's Share
What books do you use to help explain the migration or life cycle of the
- A 3rd Grade teacher in Illinois writes, "Are you familiar with
the book Gotta Go! Gotta Go! by Sam Swope? I plan to use it this year
to do a play for our first grade reading buddies and let them be a part
of our project."
- "We read The Butterfly Garden by Judith Levicoff, said a 3rd
Grade teacher in Shelbyville, Indiana.
- "But remember Middle School people!", says Cathie Plaehn,
our 7-year Journey North veteran who monitors the Forum, "The 'E'
on picture books means 'Everyone.' One of those picture books just might
make the connection for one of your students.
share any resources you use with your class on the Teacher's Forum. (We'll
be collecting recommendations in the "Resources" tab. Later,
we'll compile the suggestions to share.)
Symbolic Migration: Phrases
for Spanish-Speaking Ambassador Butterflies
Only 21 more butterfly-making
days before the October 11th postmark deadline.
Tip: Phrases for Spanish-Speaking Ambassador Butterflies
Like ambassadors, your butterfly messages can express your interest, gratitude,
and appreciation for the role the Mexican people take in monarch conservation.
Connect with Spanish-speaking people in your school or community who can
help you write messages in Spanish for your monarch ambassadors. (Or,
here are some Spanish phrases you might like to include on your butterfly.)
- Link to Phrases
for Spanish-Speaking Ambassador Butterflies
of the events that have occurred in our country since last September
11, I believe that this activity is excellent because it will instill
bonds of camaraderie between our students and students from other
cultures," wrote Mary Powierski of P.S. 172 in Brooklyn,
How to Respond to
Today's Challenge Question
1. Address an e-mail message to:
2. In the Subject Line write: Challenge Question #4
3. In the body of the message, answer the question above.
The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on September
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North. All Rights Reserved.
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