Monarch Migration Update: Oct. 27, 2011
Please Report
Your Sightings!

The first monarchs have reached their winter home in Mexico! It's one of nature's great miracles. Monarchs find a place on the planet where none has ever been. This week, we explore how the monarch's arrival is connected to Mexican traditions.

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week

Monitoring the monarch butterflies' arrival in Angangueo, Michoacan

They're Here!

News: First Monarchs Have Arrived!

Hurrah! They're Here!
Estela Romero wrote gleefully on Sunday from Angangueo, after she and Karlita discovered their first monarchs of the season:

"Now that the first monarchs are here, children in Angangueo and its communities declare ourselves ready to take over the reponsibility of keeping them safe in their Mexican land until next spring!"

Estela sends her reports in English and Spanish.

Two days earlier and about 30 kilometers away, Eligio García Serrano reported the very first sighting from the overwintering region. The monarch he saw was outside the Monarch Reserve office! All eyes on Michoacán. Large numbers of monarchs are expected to reach the region any day.

Northern Mexico
"Muy pocos reportes," Rocío Treviño wrote from her northern Mexican hometown of Saltillo, Coahuila. "I've received very few reports this week. The migration was spectacular here, but very brief."

Presumably, the wave of monarchs that moved through last week is now somewhere along the last 400-mile stretch of the journey. Few observers report from this region. Let's see what happens in the week ahead.

Late Monarchs!
All the way to Canada, observers continued to comment about the warm fall and late migration.

"Better skedaddle," a woman in Michigan advised the monarch in her garden.

Look at the condition of the flowers in Maine, where 30 monarchs were seen on Saturday.

"Just wanted to show that we still had a couple way up here in almost-November! They have a long way to go..." said a Massachusetts man.

Canada's most distant report this week was in Ottawa, Ontario, over 4,000 km (2,500 miles) from Mexico. A large, late roost of 1,300 monarchs was also reported from Canada's north shore of Lake Erie by John Brownlie on Monday:

"In the ten years that I've been working as a naturalist at Point Pelee National Park, I have never observed roosts of more than two or three hundred later than the 9th of October...The danger for monarchs migrating in late October are strong winds and the first frosts of the fall season. We have had our first frost this past Saturday. So these monarchs are really living on the edge. We wish for them a steady breeze from the northeast, and sunny days to speed them on their way to join their friends who are already in Mexico."

Will Late Monarchs Make It?
Dr. Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch is often asked whether late-season monarchs can make it to Mexico. His tagging recovery data could hold the answer. However, the data for fall seasons with warm temperatures are inconclusive. So many factors are involved, that it's difficult to compare one year to the next. Among the factors working against the late monarchs:

"With each passing day in October, nectar becomes more and more limited making it more difficult for the late monarchs to reach southern latitudes, even if the temperatures are relatively warm."

Estela, with her mother Lolita, and daughter Emilia.

First of the Season

Rocio Trevino, Correo Real

Rocío Treviño


Late Monarchs!

Peak migration in Cape May, NJ
"Better skedaddle"
Linda Rector

Monarch migration has entered Mexico!
Look at the flowers!
Melissa Conners

Two in Massachusetts
Dwayne Taylor

Seeing Monarchs?
Report Regularly!

Tell us when and where monarchs are present.

Please report at least once a week.

Research: Dr. Brower Studies Texas Drought

The Texas Climate Journal headlines read: "A drought for the centuries. It hasn't been this dry in Texas since 1789." Dr. Brower took a recent trip to check on the monarchs migrating through that drought-stricken state:

"The purpose of our research was to assess the potential effects of the severe 2011 drought on the wellbeing of the monarch butterfly," explains Brower. "Overall, this part of Texas is scorched...However, as we realized, there are nectar havens in bottomland forests along the river floodplains. It is likely that this riverine habitat plays a key role in allowing monarchs to fuel up on their way to Mexico...Here are images that bear on our findings, and capture some of the highlights of our trip."

Dr. Lincoln Brower studying effect of drought in Texas.
Research in Texas
Mike Quinn, Texas Monarch Watch

Slideshow: The Arrival and Mexican Traditions

The first monarchs arrive at their winter home in Mexico each fall by the first of November. People connect the arrival of the monarchs with two events that take place in Mexico at the time; the corn harvest is a seasonal event and Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a cultural event.

  • How are Mexico's traditions connected to the arrival of monarchs? This week's slideshow explores that essential question.

Monarch's Arrival and Mexican Traditions


The Migration: Maps and Journal Page
Monarch Butterfly Migration Map: All Sightings, Fall 2011 Monarch Butterfly Migration Map: Fall Roosts, Fall 2011 Journal

All Sightings

(map | sightings)

Fall Roosts

(map | sightings | archives)

Seeing Monarchs? Please let us know!

The next Monarch Migration Update will be posted November 3, 2011.