Monarch Butterfly Monarch Butterfly
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Monarch Butterfly Migration Update: October 10, 2003

Today’s Update Includes:

Highlights From the Migration Trail

Click Map to Read Highlights Along the Migration Trail

A spectacular migration is now passing through Texas. What luck to witness it from the ground! A collection of comments, stirred by the monarchs this week, sounds like poetry:

Monarchs coming out of the sky
Flying high, low, and in between
Gracefully, fluttering, floating by
Today was unbelievable!!!!!!

Read today's map and database for inspiration, then write a poem of your own.

Mexico Bound? All Flights Cross Through Texas
Monarchs moving down from northern latitudes are all bound for Texas. Texas is the only state on the migration pathway that all monarchs must cross. In Texas, the migration narrows and becomes more concentrated as it enters Mexico.

Courtesy of Texas Monarch Watch

"Before crossing into Mexico, the butterflies move through Texas on a pathway that angles slightly to the southwest," says Dr. Bill Calvert. "It does not move straight south. The center of this central pathway could be considered to move down from Wichita Falls, to Abilene, San Angelo, and then to Del Rio, Texas. (Of course, the pathway is different from year to year, just as you can never really consider weather to be 'typical.') At the latitude of the southern tip of Texas, the monarchs' flight path is only about 8% as wide as it was when they started from their breeding grounds in the north."

Noticias del avance de la migración en México
No word yet from Rocio Trevino in northern Mexico, but we’ll add news to the web as soon as it's received.

Watching and Waiting at the Mexican Sanctuaries
No monarchs were seen this week by students who are waiting beside the sanctuaries in Mexico. Like spectators at the finish line of a long marathon, they’re watching the skies daily, waiting for the monarchs to arrive. When do you predict the first wave will appear?

Discussion of Challenge Question #9
Last week we asked, Why is nectar so important to monarch butterflies in the fall?

Fall is the critical food-gathering time for monarchs for three important reasons--the three seasons of fall, winter and spring:

1) "For their fall migration," said Mrs. Swentzel's and Mrs. Nunnally’s students in New Jersey and New Hampshire respectively.

2) "For food and energy for the winter," added Mrs. West’s students in Texas.

3) And also to fuel the return migration next spring!

Gaining Weight for Winters' Five-month Fast: Challenge Question #10
This graph shows how much energy monarchs have, as stored fat, each month of the year. Notice how little is stored in the summer and how much this changes during the fall! At the overwintering sites in Mexico, very little nectar is eaten by the butterflies, if any. The overwintering period is like a 5-month weight-loss diet. Monarchs must survive all winter on the fat they accumulate during the fall. And, they must have enough energy left to fly back north in the spring.

Challenge Question #10:
"If you gained and lost as much fat (in pounds) as monarchs do (in milligrams) during the year, how much would you gain and lose each month? For fun, write a story about how this would affect your life."

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

So Busy Eating You Can Sneak Up and Grab One
Butterfly behavior changes noticeably in the fall as the importance of feeding increases, notes Dr. Lincoln Brower:
Listen to Dr. Brower .

"If you try to catch a butterfly between your thumb and forefinger in the summertime you'll have a very, very hard time catching it. But they are so intently nectaring [during fall migration] that you can actually, if you're really careful, sneak up with your thumb and forefinger and just grab one. If they've had a good feed their stomachs will actually be fat. (See photo.) They feed on that [nectar], and the nectar has sugar in it. They convert that sugar into fat and that fat is the energy store that they use to fly down to Texas and then on into Mexico."

Feeding a Butterfly in Dr. Fink’s Kitchen
Welcome to the home of Dr. Lincoln Brower and his wife, Dr. Linda Fink. Dr. Fink prepared her favorite butterfly recipe, ala Julie Childs, to show you how to feed a captive butterfly. Before viewing the video (or reading the transcript), think about how a person might feed a captive butterfly...What would you feed butterfly? How does it eat?
NectarFeedingFink01  NectarFeedingFink04  NectarFeedingFink06 

  Monarch Morphology: The Proboscis
"Adult monarch butterflies sip nectar from flowering plants using a sucking tube, that resembles a soda straw, and is called a proboscis," says Dr. Karen Oberhauser. "You can see it coiled under its head when not in use."
Symbolic Migration Deadline Oct 14: Please Support Monarch Conservation

Only 4 more butterfly-making days before the Symbolic Migration deadline. Don't be late! Butterflies received after the postmarked deadline cannot migrate.

The forest sanctuaries in Mexico are not adequately protected. Logging and other development threaten the habitat monarchs need to survive the winter. Please send support for the real butterflies with your symbolic monarchs!

fall2002_0012  fall2002_0012 

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question
1. Address an e-mail message to:
2. In the Subject Line of the message write: Challenge Question #10
3. In the body of the message, answer the question above.


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