Butterfly Migration Update: March 24, 2006
to Winter in Mexico: Field Notes from Dr. Brower
Those lucky enough to go exploring with Dr. Brower are sure to find
one thing: a man filled with curiosity, wonder, and delight. Dr.
Brower has spent his life pursuing the monarch's greatest mysteries.
Perhaps what keeps him a great scientist at the age of seventy-something
is this: He will drop what he is doing to follow an ant, puzzle
over the color of a feather, or ask a question like a child of seven.
have been going to these overwintering colonies almost every year
since January 1977. On each visit, I discover something new about
this wonderful and fascinating creature,” he said about monarchs
at the end of his 29th season.
you drop what you’re doing for a minute and go exploring with
Dr. Brower, by Don Davis.
Week's Migration Map and Data
and see what has happened now! Before you read our update today,
describe the changes you see. Is the migration following your predictions?
today's data to make your own map, or print and analyze our map:
Next? Discussion of Challenge Question #7
Last week we challenged you to predict the next 10 states in which
monarchs would appear:
was first on Ariela’s list in New York City. “I predict
that the monarchs will start to spread out as they fly north,”
states listed by Mrs. Busher’s class in Wirtz, Virginia, were
in order from south to north, “because the climate is usually
warmer in the south,” they believe.
Nunnally’s class in Bedford, New Hampshire thought the monarchs
would move eastward, along the Gulf Coast. “Milkweed will
be growing in these states so the butterflies will have a place
to lay their eggs. Also flowers will be blooming so the butterflies
can get nectar.”
map back and forth between this week and last. Can you detect
north/south movement? Can you see travel along the Gulf Coast?
Subtle Surprise: Look at the East Coast!
Something exciting is happening in the East. Even scientists are surprised.
Monarchs are appearing on the map out of order, at least according
to every science book ever written. People in North Carolina, for
example, don't usually see monarchs until April. But last week, Mr.
Jimmy Dodson saw one in Rougement, NC, on March 16th:
was actually really startled by this monarch,” he said.
Where do you think this monarch come from? Songbirds
may migrate inland
in spring from the Carolina coast where they spent
the winter, Mr.
Jimmy Dodson said. This is unheard of for monarchs.
First, there is no record in the scientific literature of monarchs
surviving as far north along the Atlantic Coast as we saw this winter.
Second, nobody knows whether monarchs that do survive winter on
the coast become migratory in the spring.
We have the chance to document this unexpected pattern!
hope you're watching for monarchs--and milkweed--this spring and
are ready to report what you see! Regular
people can contribute to science in important ways.
The Life Cycle Begins (Once Again!)
you track monarch migration, keep the monarch’s life cycle
and breeding needs in mind. They give clues about when and where
monarchs travel. Hansel and Gretel left a trail of crumbs when they
walked in the woods. A female monarch leaves a trail of eggs behind
her as she migrates. Her own children!
Ms. Monarch: Laying Eggs in Arkansas
have a volunteer who will help us learn about the life cycle.
Her name is “Ms. Monarch.” Dr. Jim Edson of Monticello,
Arkansas, caught and named this lovely female on March 11th.
we assume she has flown up from Mexico, this worn-looking monarch
has over 1,100 miles behind her. And certainly many, many eggs!
Dr. Jim Edson
University of Arkansas
Many Eggs Will Ms. Monarch Lay?
egg-laying has begun monarchs do not live long. Ms. Monarch is spending
the last of her days in the safety of Dr. Jim Edson's lab, laying
eggs for the next generation. Dr. Edson is counting her eggs every
day at noon. Take a look:
Please! Challenge Question #8
that you know more about female monarchs:
“How many eggs do you predict Ms. Monarch will lay, in total?
How many more days do you think she will live? Give a reason for
Teachers: Recommended Links for Tracking Spring
are links to key resources for tracking monarch migration in your
Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on March 31, 2006