Spring's Journey North
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North News will be posted on Fridays:
Feb. 4, 11, 18, 25, Mar 4, 11, 18, 25, Apr. 1,
8, 15, 22, 29 May 6, 13, 20, 27 ...and weekly until the migration is completed!
February 4, 2005
to Journey North's spring monarch migration season! We begin each
year while the monarchs are still at the over-wintering sites, deep
in central Mexico. The monarch’s migration to Mexico is one
of nature’s most incredible journeys. Amazingly, the same small
butterfly’s story of survival during the winter months in Mexico
is equally spectacular. During
the coming weeks, we’ll take a close look at the monarch’s
winter habitat, and the adaptations monarchs have for survival.
February 11, 2005
are famous for the spectacular colonies that they form. Some 15,000
butterflies can share a single branch. But monarchs need far more
space than meets the eye, Dr. Calvert cautions in today's report.
Their habitat requirements change during the season. A colony using
only 1 hectare at any particular moment may have used 60 hectares
by the season's end.
February 18, 2005
Dr. Calvert began his first monarch tour in Mexico this week, he realized
there was going to be a problem. "Everybody learned a dramatic
lesson about butterfly behavior," he said. Can you guess what
happened, using these photos for clues? What do Mexico's wet and dry
seasons mean for monarchs? Dr. Brower describes how monarchs come
and go based on precipitation patterns.
February 25, 2005
were so scarce in the north last summer and fall, that the news from
Mexico last week was not a surprise: This year's population is the
lowest in a decade. The reasons? Scientists share their thoughts.
"From the butterfly point of view, it looks like this is a good
winter," said Dr. Calvert by phone. Where do monarchs get the
water they need? Drs. Calvert and Brower share insights.
March 4, 2005
monarch's winter forest is one of the most elegant examples of shelter
in nature. Millions of monarchs fly across the continent to find safe
harbor there. How is it like a blanket, an umbrella, and a hot water
the forest is cut or thinned, says Dr.
Brower, monarchs will not have the shelter they need. Explain
The forest also protects monarchs from predators. Inspect three pictures
and explain how.
March 11, 2005
now mid-March. How much fat does the typical monarch have left? Running
out of fuel is a common cause of death. However, the habitat doesn't
provide food for millions upon millions of butterflies for five months;
its cool temperatures allow monarchs to SAVE energy. Is nectar still
important? Scientists don't agree. What food are monarchs about to
need in great supply? How is this related to the timing of migration?
March 18, 2005
come the monarchs! A massive exodus was witnessed last week. So many
monarchs were crossing the road, hazard lights were needed to warn
drivers of slow traffic. Check this pre-migration map as you prepare
to track the monarchs. Remember, all did not go to Mexico. What do
YOU make of the rash of migration reports from California last week?
Were they monarch butterflies?
March 25, 2005
is in the air! The first migrants appear to be arriving in Texas.
Yet our map shows many places in Texas where monarchs were already
present. How do we know which monarchs are the migrants? Read the
observers' comments carefully. What evidence can you find? Butterflies
from Mexico are seven months old, and their wings show their age.
Try the "wing-wear" quiz and see which butterflies appear
April 1, 2005
The monarchs are on the move! They pushed into northern Texas last
week and crossed into Arkansas. "The first monarch just flew
into our Outdoor Classroom," came the news from Texarkana. When
one flew past Dr. Edson's window he flew out the door with his net.
Predict how many eggs this now-captive female monarch wil lay. Next,
analyze today's migration map: Do monarchs on the Gulf Coast migrate
north in the spring? Consider these questions and send your prediction.
April 8, 2005
The monarchs moved into three news states during the past week. Are
they traveling where you expected? Which migration pattern best
matches their movement? (See maps.) Ms. Monarch has
now laid 374 eggs in Arkansas. Monarch mothers don't care for
their young; they just lay the eggs and move on, leaving the job to
Mother Nature. How is habitat like a good parent?
April 15, 2005
migration has advanced as far as 39N..and female monarchs are laying
eggs across the map. A single monarch, captive in Arkansas, laid 504
in two weeks. Young monarchs can raise themselves, thanks to their
many adaptations. Look closely at larvae: when you see an unusual
behavior or body part, ask yourself WHY. There is always a WHY behind
WHAT you see.
April 22, 2005
leading edge of the migration did not advance beyond last week's 39
N, or enter any new states. As is typical in April, fewer and fewer
monarchs are reported as the month goes on. Can you figure out why?
A monarch has the body part pictured here only during the two weeks
the monarch needs it. What is this mystery monarch adaptation?
April 29, 2005
have only 13 monarchs to report this week! Among this week's sightings
was a big surprise. A monarch was reported in Illinois on April 19,
from latitude 42 North! Should it be included on this spring's migration
map? How unusual is this? Dig through Journey North's historic maps
and data and see what you can find. Also, explore two monarch adaptations
today. How does each help a monarch survive?
May 6, 2005
quiet is almost eerie. Not a single person reported their first monarch
this week, the most pronounced lull between generations we've ever
seen. Today's map shows where habitat matters most to monarchs in
the spring. Also this week, Dr. Brower describes the moment of metamorphosis,
as a butterfly changes from caterpillar to chrysalis. Why does it
twist and turn so vigorously as the chrysalis forms?
May 13, 2005
big news this week is how little migration news we have! Only FOUR
new sightings make this May’s migration the slowest we’ve
ever recorded. Last winter's population was the lowest in a decade.
What conditions do monarchs need this spring and summer? Their survival
is a day by day, moment by moment effort as portrayed in this shot
where the monarch avoids becoming the lizard's lunch.
Monarch Butterfly Migration continues...Other
Journey North migrations have come to an end but we'll continue to
track the monarchs. Watch for updates each Friday until
the end of June.
(Also, see real-time
May 20, 2005
numbers remain low. Only
11 new sightings were reported this week. In late May in previous
years 25-75 monarchs have been reported. However,
the migration did advance clearly into the Midwest with first sightings
in Iowa and South Dakota.
May 27, 2005
is the week we've been waiting for! A flurry of 48 monarch sightings
flew in, as the migration continued its advance into the Upper Midwest.
And the first monarchs have indeed crossed into Canada! The leading
edge of the migration has now reached latitude 45 N. That's half way
to the North Pole! How much farther north do you think the monarchs
June 3, 2005
monarchs suddenly moved into the motor state of Michigan last week
as if a new freeway had been opened for them. But most surprising
was the monarch in Nova Scotia. The previous Atlantic Coast report
came over 3 weeks ago from NJ. We have not received a single report
from anyone who lives in the nearly 600 miles between them! This is
the most heavily populated part of North America. Why is the migration
map so empty east of longitude 80W?
June 10, 2005
past week was the busiest week of the season! We've added 51 sightings
to our map. For the first time, observers commonly saw multiple
monarchs at once. This is a noteworthy change and reflects a substantial
increase in the monarch population. Perhaps most striking is how
SIMILAR the migration is from year to year! See the comparative
maps in this week's update.
June 17, 2005
northernmost monarch has now been reported from latitude 50N in
Manitoba--that's 2,147 miles north of the overwintering sites in
Mexico! As the breeding season progresses, it's hard to tell which
sightings reflect broader distribution (due to migration) and which
reflect greater abundance (due to reproduction). Among the 75 sightings
added to the map are some from the southern region of the summer
breeding range. Can you find them?
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