Migration Update: September 17, 2009
Please Report
Your Sightings!

This Week's News:

Photo of the Week
How many monarchs per minute?
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

Monarchs Cruise into Kansas
Samual was doing his schoolwork when he happened to look out the window. "He saw monarchs, so we decided to go watch," said his mom. "Within 1 hour and 20 minutes we saw 1,018 monarchs, all headed south!! It was totally amazing!!!"

In the very same town, not far away, Mrs. Palmberg discovered a roost on her farm. We have sunflowers, alfalfa, and clover fields," she noted.

Most surprising was the roost reported in western Kansas, only 60 miles from the Colorado border. This is the westernmost roost ever reported to us from Kansas, and it's at the same longitude as the overwintering sites in Mexico. Monarch expert Dr. Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch commented, "In the early years of Monarch Watch (1992-96), we received reports of clusters and substantial numbers of migrating monarchs from several western Kansas counties bordering Colorado. We haven't had much news from that area in over 10 years." Were last week's unusual east winds responsible for carrying the monarchs westward?

When Will They Get There?
There were two early reports of monarchs in northern Mexico this week. When do you predict the first monarchs will reach the overwintering sites in central Mexico? When will they arrive in large numbers? Look at this week's map and make your prediction.
(For measuring distances on Google maps, see: How Far to Mexico?)

Other Highlights:

  • For the 20th year, the Monarch Monitoring Project at Cape May New Jersey is underway. Over the past two weeks their average migration rate was 17 monarchs per hour. "Our Road Census has compiled a significant and unique database quantifying monarch migration," says project leader Dick Walton.
  • Breeding in the south: People noted monarchs breeding this week from Virginia, to Georgia, Arkansas, and Texas. They saw eggs, larvae, and even mated pairs. Remember: scientists don't understand how important this late season breeding is to the monarch population. Observations like these are helping to solve the mystery.
  • Also migrating this week—dragonflies! A swarm flew overhead in Iowa, taking a free lift from a cold front. Monarch butterflies often migrate with dragonflies, under the same conditions. (See graphic.)
Monarchs settling into a roost in Plainville, Kansas, on Tuesday.

A fresh monarch in Minnesota
What does it tell us?

Also migrating this week—dragonflies!

A free lift from a cold front

Citizen Scientist Journal: Use Standard Measurements to Compare Observations

This week, learn how standard units of measurement help us make sense of migration data. Read this week's observation reports from citizen scientists and see how to count monarchs per hour (or monarchs per minute). Can you identify where the migration was strongest? What else can you learn by comparing the observations?

All Monarch Observations Are Important!
Whether a person sees a single butterfly or thousands, all monarch observations are important! When you report your own monarch sightings, please include standard units of measurement. Tell us how many monarchs per hour (or per minute) you see. Using this information, scientists can learn about the pathways monarchs travel during migration, the weather that influences their journey, the habitat the butterflies use, where the monarchs might be breeding, the size of the monarch population in different regions, and countless other facts.

For Your Journal

Lesson: Migration Rate Activites

The four activities below give students practice with the standard units we use for migration data. (Also see these Teaching Suggestions to introduce students to the concept of migration rates.)

Monarchs per Minute

Online Practice Activity

Migration Rate Math

Practice Activity

My Migration Rates

Data Sheet

This Fall's Record Flights

Data Sheet

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 24, 2009.