Monarch Butterfly Update: May 5, 2011
Please Report
Your Sightings!

The migration map has hardly changed in a week! The quiet was typical for the first week of May. New butterflies are on the wing, but not in the numbers we will soon see. This spring, people have been astonished by the monarch's ability to find milkweed, even the tiniest plants. What senses do monarchs have, and how do they use them to find milkweed?

This Week's Update Includes:


Image of the Week

Egg-loading in Delaware

Little Butterfly,
Big Questions

News: Sightings Falling, Anticipation Building...

Sightings Falling
This is the time of year when things get quiet. Only six monarchs have been reported since the first of May! This sightings graph shows numbers steadily falling.

Anticipation Building...
When will sightings soar? Sometime soon, large numbers of first generation monarchs will appear on the scene. This typically occurs during the second half of May. What will happen this year? It may take longer than usual for the first generation to develop because the monarchs moved into cool, northern regions so quickly. Take a look at last year's sightings graph and predict. When will this spring's surge of sightings occur?

How Far North Do Monarchs From Mexico Travel?
Today's migration map reveals how far the butterflies from Mexico will go this spring. If you haven't seen a monarch yet, your first will probably be the offspring of the monarchs from Mexico. This new generation will complete the migration across the monarch's northern breeding range.

  • Try This! How far did the monarchs from Mexico fly? Measure the distance on the migration map.

Do Monarchs Return to the Same Place in the Spring?
The 8 year-old boy in Delaware wondered, "If monarchs know how to get to Mexico, do they know how to get back to my garden?"

What a great question! It's possible that a monarch could return from Mexico to a Delaware garden, but it's highly unlikely. Monarchs do not instinctively return to the same place they were born, the way migratory birds are known to do. Such a behavior would not benefit a monarch or its offspring. In the spring, monarchs must go where milkweed is immediately available because of the urgent need to reproduce before their lives end.

Here's a tip: Whenever you wonder why monarchs do what they do, always consider their needs to survive and/or reproduce.

Egg-loading in Delaware
Still Holding On!

Sightings per Week
Sightings Falling

Monarch Migration Spring 2011
How Far North?

Slideshow: How Do Monarchs Find Milkweed?

Milkweed is the only food monarch young will eat, so finding it is of the utmost importance. How do monarchs sense the world, and which senses lead them to milkweed?

The Migration: Maps and Journal Page
Pre-migration map: Winter monarch butterfly sightings (January or February) Map of milkweed emergence: Spring 2011 Journal Page
How Would You Answer?

Let's find out when and where monarchs and milkweed appear this spring.

Annual Evaluation: Please Share Your Thoughts

Please take a few minutes to complete our Annual Evaluation. With your help, we can we document Journey North's reach, impact and value. Thank you!

The next Monarch Migration Update will be posted on May 12, 2011.