Migration Update: September 3, 2009 Please Report
Your Sightings!

This Week's News:

Photo of the Week

Photo: Linda Keller
How many monarchs?

The Migration: Maps and Questions

Fall Roosts


PEAK Migration


ALL Monarch
Migration Sightings


Distribution Map

Learn About Migration Maps


Make Your Own Migration Map

For Your Journal
This Week's Map Questions

Latest News

Spectacular Sightings in Nebraska
Spectacular 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:

"At 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 their wings."

Monarchs, 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!

Early 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.

Observers Beware! Monarchs or Queens?
Close relatives of the Monarch, called Queens, are among the butterflies people are spotting.

  • Where 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.
(Danaus gilippus)
(Danaus plexippus)
Photos courtesy of Mr. Fred Alley

People 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 these questions:
  • What new information did you learn about monarchs and their migration needs?
  • How could people use this information to invent creative conservation solutions?

Alfalfa in Bloom

Alfalfa in Hay Bales

Did You Know?
Before alfalfa is cut for hay, the alfalfa flowers can be an important source of food for migrating monarchs.


For Your Journal

Slideshow: Do You Know a Monarch When You See One?

Hundreds of observers track the monarch's migration every fall and spring. Their observations must be accurate in order for the data to be valid and useful. Do you know a monarch when you see one? Find out!

Teachers: Prepare your students for their role as citizen scientists by cultivating their observation and identification skills. Help them to positively identify a monarch butterfly by its distinctive field marks and unique characteristics. Students observe, measure, draw, and describe monarchs. Teachers can reward students who demonstrate their skills and achievements with the special Journey North Citizen Scientist Certificate of Excellence that's included in this Teacher Guide.

Tip for Teachers: Start Journey South Journals

Build a Journal
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.

Here are the four basic journal pages you'll find in each update, plus Teaching Suggestions:

Links: Monarch Resources to Explore

Monarch 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 Mexico!

The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on September 10, 2009.