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Monarch Migration Update: March 11, 2010
Please Report
Your Sightings!

Here come the monarchs! The first spring sightings have been reported— and they raise interesting questions. This week, think about the pressures monarchs face as they make the transition from winter to spring. The monarchs can't stay in Mexico any longer — but they can't move north too quickly either!

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week

Dr. Lincoln Brower

Here come the monarchs!

News: First Sightings! Are They Migrants?

First Sightings!
The first spring sightings have been reported! In her garden in Queretaro, Mexico, 60 miles north of the overwintering sites, Noemi Suss saw a monarch on March 4th—and two more on March 5th. She even snapped pictures!

Are They Migrants?
When monarch expert Dr. Lincoln Brower saw the photos he was cautious. Two clues made him suspect the monarch pictured was not a migrant. What do you suppose Dr. Brower noticed? Take a look!

Observations From Texas Raise More Questions
Two more monarchs were reported from the southern tip of Texas. Early sightings like these always raise questions. Are the butterflies coming up from Mexico? Did they spend the winter elsewhere? Or are they fresh monarchs of a new generation? Look at our migration map. The red triangles show where people reported monarchs this winter in January or February. Did some monarchs survive the winter in these places?

Coldest Winter in Years
Mr. and Mrs. Aschen watched monarchs clustering on the Texas Gulf coast until January 8th:

"Then it became a cold, cold winter," said Mr. Aschen. "We had a hard freeze for several days starting January 9th and we haven't seen a monarch since. It had been more than fifteen years since we'd had a freeze this hard across the entire state. We had been told this was why not to depend on monarchs overwintering along the Texas coast to help repopulate in the spring. Sure enough, it happened!"

All Eyes on Texas!
The migration should arrive in Texas any day. In fact, at the time of writing, two monarchs appeared on the map. Can you find them?

A migrant?
See what Dr. Brower notices in the photos.


All Eyes on Texas!

The migration should arrive in Texas any day. In fact, at the time of writing, two monarchs appeared on the migration map. Can you find them?


The Migration: Maps and an Invitation



Invitation to Track Monarch Migration
Teachers: Use this parent letter to encourge students to invite students and their families to track the spring migration. This winter's small monarch population makes spring sightings especially important. Please help us document when and where you see the first monarchs and milkweed this spring.

Slideshow, Journal Page and Teacher Guide

Spring Migration: A Race Against Time

Spring migration begins every March in a flurry. The monarchs are in a race against time. They can't stay in Mexico any longer — but they can't move north too quickly either. Why does spring migration begin now and what triggers the departure?

Journal Page:
N ame two reasons monarchs need to leave Mexico quickly in the spring. Name two reasons that should not come north too quickly.

Teacher Guide:
Begin your spring migration study by exploring the time-sensitive connections between monarchs and their environment.

Research Question and Links: Explore!

This Week's Research Question: How do you think seasonal changes affect monarchs and the timing of their spring migration?

Additional links to explore:

More Monarch Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on March 18, 2010.

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