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Monarch Migration Update: April 15, 2010
Please Report
Your Sightings!

Our northernmost monarch reached latitude 39N this week and monarchs were reported in five new states. Sightings from the Atlantic Coast may be revealing a new discovery about monarch migration. Also this week, can you name another species that eats nectar and travels where monarchs do?

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week


Photo: Bud Hensley

Who's traveling too?

News: Migration Pattern Raising Questions

A fascinating pattern is appearing on our migration map this spring. Take a look at the states along the Atlantic Coast. (We're circled the region in blue.) Three monarch sightings appeared there last week—and now there are over a dozen! Where are these East Coast monarchs coming from?

Andy Davis has studied the monarch migration for years. He has written several scientific papers using Journey North migration data. “It seems mathematically impossible that those monarchs could have come up from Mexico. We could calculate the migration rate to test this," he suggested.

Study the map and see what you think. Perhaps monarchs that overwinter along the Atlantic coast—or even in Cuba—join the migration from Mexico each the spring. Perhaps a hidden pattern is being revealed this spring because fewer monarchs are coming up from Mexico. This would be a remarkable discovery!

April Counts
Dr. Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch is watching the migration map daily. He will be paying attention to the number of monarchs reported during April. “The sightings really drop off in years when the population is low,” he believes. The good news: the population is centered in Texas where warm temperatures will help the next generation develop quickly. Conditions in Texas could be good for monarchs this year because the vegetation received adequate rainfall. Take a look at the spectacular spring wildflowers! The flowers provide a nectar corridor for monarchs as they migrate across the Texas landscape.

Two migrations?

Photos: Andy Davis

A Nectar Corridor
A splendid display of wildflowers greeted monarchs in Texas this spring. This is a welcome change after two years of drought across much of the state.

Compare: Two Migrations Fueled by Nectar

Monarch butterflies and ruby-throated hummingbirds are both migrating north right now. What are the similarities and differences between these migrations? Make predictions, pose questions and do some research. Then check your prediction against the latest migration maps. Use the fill-in-the-blank journal page to get started:

 

Comparison Chart Compare, Contrast, and Predict!

The Migration: Maps and Journal Page


Monarchs
(map/animation/sightings)


Milkweed
(map/animation/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.

More Monarch Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on April 22, 2010.

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