Monarch Migration Update: October
Today's Report Includes:
Field Notes from the Monarch
Sanctuary Region in Mexico
No monarchs yet, say Estella Romero and German Medina who are waiting patiently
at the monarchs’ finish line. People in the area say it's been raining
too much for the butterflies to approach but they believe it won't be long.
Hurricanes Isidore and Lilly have even stirred up the weather in the central
part of their country and the weather “certainly won't improve within
the rest of the week--least of all in Angangueo, which is considered a particularly
rainy location,” they say. Here’s the full report, in both English
The United States of Mexico:
Challenge Question #6
It’s time to pull out your atlas! Soon the migration will pass through
northern Mexico. Do you know the names of the Mexican states?
Challenge Question #6:
“How many Mexican states are there? Through which states do you
think the monarchs will travel? (Note that the sanctuaries are located
at 19 N, -100 W.)”
(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions
Highlights Along the Migration
Migration reports arrived this week from points across the monarch’s
eastern range. People in the north say they’re surprised to see monarchs
this late, those as far south as Texas say numbers are beginning to build.
Here are some of the week’s highlights:
0/29/02 Willington, CT
Chris Higley of Willington, CT shared an AMAZING monarch story. She
tagged 38 butterflies last Tuesday and sent them on their way. Sunday,
while on a picnic with her family 50 miles from home, what do you suppose
09/29/02 Point Pelee, ON
"There was a massive migration of Monarchs in progress at Point
Pelee, with hundreds leaving the tip of the peninsula on a constant
basis." Point Pelee is a sand spit stretching 10 km into Lake Erie
and is world famous for its seasonal migrations of birds and monarch
09/30/02 LaGrange, KY
"Monarch sightings have been very slow this fall. Today my class
made symbolic monarchs and when we went outdoors for our recess time,
we watched a monarch butterfly for about 15 minutes. It used our butterfly
garden and fluttered about the school campus before going over the roof
of our building and out of sight!"
10/02/02 Decatur, GA
“Today my Nature Club kids and I saw the first monarch butterfly
we have seen in the three years we have been participating in Journey
North. It was feeding on a zinnia in our community garden and then flew
on to feed on some Mexican sunflowers. Today we started our session
on migrations and what a surprise! We had almost given up hope!”
What Does Migration Look Like?
An Observation of Soaring Flight
On Sunday in Maryland, a bald eagle and a red-shouldered hawk were riding
the rising air currents of a thermal while Rudy Benavides watched. In the
same thermal, a monarch butterfly caught his eye. He watched it rise silently
and effortlessly, higher and higher, until out of sight.
Monarchs riding in a thermal
really surprised me was that as long as I watched it, it never once flapped
its wings,” he observed. “It just soared, and after awhile,
went completely out of sight.”
Adaptations to a World
in Which Warm Air Rises
An "adaptation" is a physical or behavioral feature that evolved
in response to an organism's environment, due to pressures for survival.
How a species looks (its anatomy), as well as how it behaves (how it moves,
obtains food, reproduces, responds to danger, etc.) are examples of adaptations.
Heated (red) molecules rise
above cool, slow, more dense (blue) molecules. Thermals
form when hot or sunny ground is near cool water or shady ground.
When we think about animals' adaptations, we sometimes overlook the invisible
forces upon them. Can you find ways monarch butterflies and bald eagles
are similarly adapted to the fact that warm air rises?
- Draw and compare the silhouette of a monarch butterfly and a bald
eagle. What adaptations do they both have for soaring flight?
- How does their anatomy compare to that of a hummingbird, a bird famous
for its powered flight? (One biologist speculates that powered flight
uses twenty times more energy than soaring flight, in eagles!)
Up, Up and Away: Thermals and Updrafts
Imagine being able to float in the sky, circling higher and higher, into
the clouds, held up by nothing more than rising air. Here is information
about thermals, and some activities you can do:
These feathers are hanging
above a cold stove
|These feathers are hanging
above a hot stove
Migration is Not for Babies
Discussion of Challenge Question #5
Last week we asked, "How would you explain to a person who's new to
tracking monarch migration why it's impossible to see a baby monarch migrating?”
Bobby Pogoloff's second and third grade class in Crested Butte, Colorado
say they’re following the migration closely:
seen many Monarchs because we are too high (9,00ft) for milkweed, but
many valleys just below us have it so we are very excited,“ they
said. “We thought about how to explain the impossibility of a
baby monarch migrating and here are some of our answers:
- Jackson M., Ayla
C., Marissa L. and Cal F. noticed that a baby monarch is a caterpillar
and it would not be able to migrate very far onthose short legs.
- Olivia B., Morgan
O., Billy F., Alex A., and Ali S. noticed that a baby monarch has no
wings so it is unable to fly.
- Mikayla says there
is no such thing as a baby monarch that can fly.
Mrs. Lodge's Science classes in Hebron, Connecticut raised and released
7 monarchs this fall:
studies of the life cycle, we learned that the butterfly is the adult
stage of the monarch's life, so it is impossible to see a baby monarch
migrating,” they concluded.
“It is impossible
to see baby monarchs migrating because a baby monarch is a caterpillar
and they don't migrate,” added Miss Bischof's first grade class
in Cleveland, Ohio.
Symbolic Migration Reminder:
Deadline is October 11
continues, with only 7 more butterfly-making days until the October 11th
Buy Your Butterfly a Tourist’s Ticket!
When you send your symbolic butterflies, please enclose a donation to
support monarch conservation at the overwintering sites. Pictured here
are real entrance tickets for visiting the Sierra Chincua sanctuary. It
costs 10 pesos for a child to visit, and 15 pesos for an adult.
magine buying a ticket for your symbolic butterfly’s winter-long
visit. This financial support would help give real butterflies a safe
place to spend the winter.
Challenge Question #7:
“How much does it cost to visit the sanctuary, in your own country’s
currency? With your answer, compare this to the cost of going to a movie.”
How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question
1. Address an e-mail message to: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. In the Subject Line write: Challenge Question #6 (or #7)
3. In the body of the message, answer the question above.
The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on October 11,
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North. All Rights Reserved.
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