the Great Plains and Funneling Toward Texas
The geography of our continent is clearly steering the migration
now. Butterflies from east to west must cross the southern Great Plains
as they head toward their entry point to Mexico. Texas is the gateway
state. Look at a map and see its central importance. After months of severe
drought there, recent rains arrived just in time to prepare the vegetation
for the hungry, thirsty travelers.
some of this week's highlights:
on Wednesday, "Monarchs were passing by at the rate of about 15
- 20 per minute" and sunflower patches were loaded with nectaring
Arkansas on Thursday, "My 6th grade class at St. Paul
Elementary watched for 30 minutes and counted 62 monarchs traveling
south, southwest. This is the most monarchs my class has seen during
the past five years."
Eisenhower Elementary students are on the lookout. "Today we saw
a monarch flying south. It was so cool. We yelled, 'Monarch!' Then everyone
24 people reported overnight roosts in a single week! All were dazzled
by the spectacle as was this observer on Thursday, "I walked toward
the trees around 7:00 p.m., completely unaware of the monarchs' presence,
when the trees exploded with color!"
Happening Across the Continent?
Millions of monarchs are migrating across the Great Plains right now toward
Mexico, but that's not all. This week, take a visual tour of a map
of North America to see what else observers are reporting. Read comments
from the map of "All
Migration Sightings." From the far reaches of New Brunswick,
to the shores of the Great Lakes, the coast of California, the ciengas
of Arizona, and Mexico's Sierra Madres, people are observing monarchs
in widely varied landscapes and habitats. These observations raise fascinating
questions, inspire people with wonder, and challenge scientists to explain
the complicated life history of our familiar backyard butterfly.
means by which monarchs navigate has mystified monarch researchers for
over half a century and it remains one of the most intriguing questions
of monarch biology," says monarch scientist Dr. Bill Calvert.
we watch monarchs migrate down the map toward their winter home in Mexico.
How do they know which way to go? How do they know when they get there?
Scientists say monarchs orient with help from the sun and a special biological
clock. They use what's called their "time-compensated Sun compass."
a monarch for a day in this slideshow. See why monarchs can't simply follow
the sun. Find out how scientists study the mysterious world of monarch
Way to Mexico?
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 October 8, 2009.