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Monarch Migration Update: March 18, 2010
Please Report
Your Sightings!

The first monarchs are now appearing in Texas! During spring migration, a female monarch leaves a trail of eggs behind her as she travels. As you begin to track monarch migration this spring, think of the hope embodied in tiny eggs and nature's power of regeneration. Then give three cheers for the monarchs that survived the long winter in Mexico!

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week

Little egg, big hope!

News: First Monarchs Now Appearing in Texas!

Over the past week, a dozen people from the big state of Texas have reported their first monarchs of spring.

"We got a good, long look at some faded wings gliding over us," wrote Mr. Aschen. "In the next thirty minutes we saw two other monarchs in the pasture. The wildflowers look great and it is only the middle of March!"

A Sign of the Small Population?
This spring's 12 observations from Texas compare to nearly 70 sightings reported last year at this time, from Texas and northern Mexico. So far, n
ot a single sighting has been reported to our sister program in northern Mexico, Correo Real. Perhaps the northerly winds of the past week have held the monarchs back. (South winds are finally predicted for Friday!) However, the low number of sightings may be a sign of this year's small population.

Small Population, Big Challenge!
Dr. Lincoln Brower is concerned about the number of monarchs returning from Mexico this spring. "It is likely that the original 1.92 hectares of monarchs has been reduced by at least 50%," he says. "We hope that this all-time, historical low number of surviving butterflies will meet good weather conditions when they fly into Texas to reestablish the new spring generation."

 


Image: Harlen Aschen

Faded wings tell a tale.
The condition of a monarch's wings reveal if the monarch is fresh and young or faded and old.

 



How many monarchs survived the winter?
"It is likely that this winter's original 1.92 hectares of monarchs has been reduced by at least 50%," says Dr. Brower.

The Migration: Maps and Journal Page


Monarchs
(map/sightings)


Milkweed
(map/sightings)

This year's small monarch population means spring sightings are especially important. Please help us document when and where monarchs and milkweed appear this spring.

Slideshow: A New Generation: The Cycle of Life Continues

Spring is a critical time for monarchs. As one generation reaches the end of its life, a new generation begins. This slideshow introduces the essential questions about spring migration and prepares students to predict the path monarchs will travel based on the butterflies' biological needs and habitat-readiness in springtime.

Research Question and Links: Explore!

This Week's Research Question: What is the difference between the monarch's annual cycle and life cycle?

Research for facts as you read these slideshows:

Additional links to explore:

More Monarch Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on March 25, 2010.

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