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Monarch Butterfly Update: March 8, 2012
Please Report
Your Sightings!
Report Your Sightings
Millions of monarchs are about to begin their journey north. This week, explore how seasonal change affects monarchs and the timing of spring migration. The butterflies can't stay in Mexico much longer, but they can't move north too quickly either.

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week
Monarch Butterflies in flight at sanctuary in Mexico.
Dr. Lincoln Brower
Ready or Not?
News: Flying in a Flurry
Restless and Ready
From what Estela witnessed on Tuesday, the monarchs are restless and ready to go!

"Butterflies were flying every-which-way in a flurry. On this sunny day they were clouding the sky! The air was so filled with flapping, flying butterflies it sometimes seemed hard to breathe!"

Dr. Lincoln Brower is visiting the sanctuaries this week and Estela had the honor of joining him.

"I hope I have been able to share at least a fraction of what I learned from my experience in the forest with Dr. Brower!"

As you read Estela's report, look for the three concerns Dr. Brower expressed about the health of the monarchs and their habitat.

Presidential Visit
Mexico's President Calderón visited El Rosario sanctuary last Saturday. Afterward he Tweeted: "I was just in the Monarch Butterfly Reserve where an IMAX movie is being filmed about this great natural wonder." The president hopes the film will bring tourists to the region as a way to support the local economy.

Monarch butterflies preparing for spring migration at overwintering sites in Mexico.
Image: Estela Romero
Flying in a Flurry
 
Visiting the Butterflies with Dr. Brower
Image: Estela Romero
Dr. Brower's Visit
 
Presidential Visit
Photo: Primo Plano
Presidential Visit
Slideshow: Spring Migration, A Race Against Time
Why does spring migration begin in March and what triggers the monarchs' departure? Explore the time-sensitive connections between monarchs and the seasons as you begin your spring migration study.

Essential Question
Why is the monarch's spring migration a race against time?


Slideshow

Spring Migration: Warm Winter, Early Sightings?
This winter has been unsually warm. The red triangles on our map show where monarchs were reported before March 1st. Milkweed has already emerged across much of Texas, and what appear to be the first migration sightings are already being reported!

March 5: Eagle Pass, Texas
"Whooo! Whooo! Saw my first very faded monarch this evening...This is my first earliest spotted spring remigrant since 1979! Last year's first sighting was on March 17th. Milkweed emerged on February 11th, 15 days early."

The leading edge of the migration typically crosses the Rio Grande (into Texas) around March 15th, says Texas expert Mike Quinn. This spring, we'll be watching carefully to see if the migration moves north more quickly. Pay special attention to the regions along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts where monarchs overwintered this season.

  • Get Ready! Use this invitation letter to invite family and friends to help track spring migration.

Invitation
Invitation Letter

All Eyes on Texas!

"The leading edge of the migration typically crosses the Rio Grande around March 15th," says Texas insect-expert, Mike Quinn.

 

The Migration: Maps and Journal
Let's find out when and where monarchs and milkweed appear this spring.

Monarch Butterfly Winter Sightings Map of milkweed emergence: Spring 2011 Journal Page | Why is spring migration a race against time?
Journal
First Monarch
(map | animation | sightings)
First Milkweed
(map | animation | sightings)
The next monarch migration update will be posted on March 15, 2012.
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