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Monarch Migration Update: October 11, 2002

Today's Report Includes:

Field Notes from the Monarch Sanctuary Region in Mexico

Last Saturday, October 5th, German Medina was driving his truck toward Ciudad Hidalgo, a town about 75 kilometers northwest of his home in Angangueo. Outside the window, like the first drops before a heavy rain, what do you suppose he saw?

"A mitad de camino, en un valle, me encontré súbitamente con una mariposa monarca--luego dos, y otra detrás de ellas."

Challenge Question #8:
“How many monarch butterflies did German Medina see?”

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

Back in Angangueo, Estella Romero said monarchs still haven’t been spotted in the sanctuaries that surround her mountain town. She added: “Cuando llega alguien que vive en la parte alta de la montaña a la tienda de mi familia, siempre le pregunto si ha visto alguna mariposa monarca y, aunque todo el mundo está atento, no se ha avistado ninguna.”

German Medina
He uses this truck to take tourists up the mountain to see the monarchs
The Angangueo skyline

The Romero family store, located in downtown Angangueo
(1995 photo)


Highlights Along the Migration Trail
The migration picked up its pace in the southeast last week, as this week’s map shows. And from scattered locations across the big state of Texas, a few people witnessed what everybody’s watching for: As many as 50 to 100 monarchs per minute crossing the skies!

Here are this week’s comments from observers:

10/07/02 Clarkesville, GA
"Our second grade class observed for 30 minutes over 25 monarchs nectaring on white and purple butterfly bushes in the Children's Garden and around the campus."

10/07/02 Clemson, SC
"The numbers of monarchs I've been seeing has risen steadily the last week. Today at 1 pm, 1 counted 27 monarchs nectaring on a nearby butterfly bush, definitely the most I've seen so far!"

10/07/02 Henry, VA
"Our class counted 6 to 7 monarch butterflies from 12:10 to 12:25 while we were in recess on our playground. They seemed to pass in 2 to 6 minute intervals."

10/07/02 Abilene, TX
"Within the last 3 days we have seen probably anywhere from 10 to 15 thousand monarchs within a 5 mile radius and it has been spectacular!! They are feeding on our native plants, laying on tropical milkweed, along with queens, and we are tagging as fast as we can. Our local news reporters have been out to take pictures, which were broadcast last night, so all could enjoy!!"

10/06/02 Clyde, TX
"Sunday afternoon around 4:30 the wind shifted to light from the north...Monarchs started coming through in droves. We counted several times and the numbers were between 50 to 100 per minute at the peak. No fewer than 15 per minute. They were at varying heights from 15' to higher than I could see, making a bee-line south. This lasted about an hour.”

10/05/02 Graham, TX
"We had a few monarchs Sept. 28 and 29, but many more came in Saturday, October 5th to Graham, TX. We're about 80 miles northeast of Clyde, TX. We had large clusters on our trees in the back yard -- probably 200 to 300 butterflies. After the cold front came through Sunday afternoon, we no longer had the butterflies."

10/04/02 Winston Salem, NC
"Our Mexican sunflowers appear to be moving. No they're not moving, they are covered with monarchs! We counted eight!"

Photos: Elbert Wheeler Enid, OK

Still Coming Down from the North...
If you think the migration is nearly over, after reports from Texas and even Mexico, read this observation way up in Iowa and consider again:

10/09/02 Washington, IA
"This was the first day we saw monarchs in large masses at our school. They roosted in several bushes and trees around the ground, we estimated about 250-300. This was more than we had last year! We still have caterpillars on our milkweed!..Hopefully, a few more will make it in the warmer weather we've been having--"

  • How is monarch habitat changing where you live, as fall advances? What risks do monarchs face by migrating late?

Arkansas Monarch Found Six Miles From Home
Maybe you’ve recently bid a monarch farewell and sent it on its way to Mexico. Here’s a true story from students in Arkansas, whose goodbye was not their last encounter with their monarch:

09/26/02 Monticello, AR
"My class and I released two butterflies yesterday at 3:00 p. m. that we had caught earlier in the day. Later, about 6:30, one of my former students found one of them at her house which is about 6 3/4 miles from my classroom! She noticed that it was tagged, wrote down the number, and called her biology teacher to see if it was one of his. When it wasn't, then he contacted me to see if I had tagged it. We were so excited to have one of our butterflies spotted."

Challenge Question #9:
“Assuming it flew the entire time, how many miles per hour did the Arkansas monarch travel?”

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

How Many Mexican States?
Discussion of Challenge Question #6

Last week we asked, “How many Mexican states are there? Through which states do you think the monarchs will travel?”

Miss Bailey's Third Grade Class wrote in from Vero Beach, FL:

  • “This was a great question for our class because we have been working on making maps of Mexico and labeling all the states since last week. All of the students in our class think that there are 31 Mexican States.
  • Dustin and Cody think the monarchs will travel through Sonora, Aguascalientes and Michoacan.
  • Layla and Ariel think the monarchs' route will take them through Coahuila, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacan, Mexico, and Queretaro.
  • Emilee and Emily say that the monarchs will pass through Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato, Queretaro, and Distrito Federal.
  • Finally, Tiffany and Caitlin were very ambitious. They say the monarchs will visit Durango, Coahuila, Zacatecas, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Aguascalientes, Michoacan, Mexico, Morelos, Hidalgo, Nueveo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Queretaro, Guerrero, and Distrito Federal.

The second grade students at Stapleton School in Framingham, MA seem to agree most closely with Emilee and Emily. They think that:

  • The monarchs will go through the states of Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi and Guanajuato before arriving in Angangueo, Michoacan. “There are 32 states, including the Federal District, or 31 without DF (Districto Federal)," they added.

Where DO the monarchs travel? We'll soon see!

Cost of a Sanctuary Ticket
Discussion of Challenge Question #7

Pictured here are real entrance tickets for visiting the Sierra Chincua sanctuary. Last week we asked, “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.”

Nicole T. from Mrs. Lodge's science class at RHAM Middle School in Hebron, Connecticut said, "In our currency it would cost a child $1.00 to go to the butterfly sanctuary. It would cost $1.50 for an adult. For a child under 11, it would cost $5.00 to go watch a movie. For an adult to go to the movies it costs $8.00."

"The sanctuary would be the better deal," concluded Mrs. West's Third Grade students at Poth Elementary after their own calculations.

UCC Currency Converter 
Check the current exchange rate for Mexican pesos

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question

1. Address an e-mail message to:
2. In the Subject Line write: Challenge Question #8 (or #9).
3. In the body of the message, answer the question above.

The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on October 18, 2002.


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