Sightings in Nebraska
roosts were reported in Nebraska this week. With tens of thousands of
butterflies, they were the largest yet of the season. The discovery fascinated
and delighted the observers:
first we saw the trees moving not knowing what it was. Then when we
saw what it was we were amazed," began Mr. Bussey. Mrs. Bussey
continued, "As the sun began to set it was shining on the trees
right on the edge of the alfalfa field. The monarchs all seemed to come
out of the grove to lite on those outside trees to get the warmth of
the setting sun. The trees were completely orange until they closed
Farmers, and Flowering Alfalfa
Both of the Nebraska roosts were found near blooming alfalfa
fields. Farmers grow the alfalfa for hay. They typically cut alfalfa just
as it begins to bloom, for the highest nutritional value. However, if
they don't cut alfalfa in time, the flowers bloom and the alfalfa nectar
becomes a welcome source of food for migrating monarchs. During fall migration,
monarchs must cross hundreds of miles of crop land in the central United
States. If farmers knew the monarchs were coming, they might be willing
to leave some flowering alfalfa for the butterflies!
Arrivals in the South
Unusually early monarchs continue to be reported as far south
as Texas. "This push of monarchs is well before the normal migration
that crosses the Red River (into Texas) in late September and early October,"
said insect biologist, Mike Quinn.
Beware! Monarchs or Queens?
Close relatives of the Monarch, called Queens, are among the butterflies
people are spotting.
could Queens be confused with Monarchs? Look at this occurence
map and find out.
- How do
Queens compare to Monarchs? Use this Venn
diagram with pictures to compare and contrast Monarchs and Queens.
courtesy of Mr. Fred Alley
and Monarchs Sharing Resources
How can humans and monarchs meet their basic survival needs with limited
resources to share? Read the first-hand observations below and think about
- What new
information did you learn about monarchs and their migration needs?
- How could
people use this information to invent creative conservation solutions?
in Hay Bales
Before alfalfa is cut for hay, the alfalfa flowers can be an important
source of food for migrating monarchs.
As you embark on your journey with the monarchs, invite students
to begin building scientific journals. Page by page, the journal
is a workplace where students explore ever-changing events, record
compelling questions, formulate hypotheses, document discoveries,
and chronicle each step of their learning journey.
are the four basic journal pages you'll find in
each update, plus Teaching Suggestions:
Butterfly Migration Updates Will be Posted on THURSDAYS: Aug. 27, Sep.
3, 10, 17, 24, Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, Nov. 5...or until the monarchs reach
Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on September 10, 2009.