Monarch Butterfly Update: April 12, 2012
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Your Sightings!
Report Your Sightings
Sightings of faded wings mean the monarchs from Mexico are reaching their final days. Watch for a fresh new generation to appear. This week, compare the migrations of two nectar-eating animals. Which species will you see first this spring—and why?

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week
Monarch butterfly covered with pollen by Harlen Aschen.
Image: Harlen Aschen
Covered with Pollen
News: Reaching the End
Increasingly this week, people noticed monarchs with faded wings—a sign that the monarchs from Mexico are reaching the end of their lives. Yet egg-laying continued:

"The monarch was very worn and faded...She looked very tired, yet possibly laid about 200 eggs!" Richmond, VA

"Our first monarch was faded, but she floated from milkweed to milkweed in our yard." Catawissa, MO

Slowed by Cold
Cooler, more typical temperatures have returned, and the migration's northward advance has slowed. Latitude line 39 North seems like an invisible barrier beyond which no butterfly can fly. The migration continued to advance eastward and a wave of first sightings hit Virginia.

Capturing Spring
To the surprise and delight of eager students, milkweed and monarchs appeared this week at schools like these:

"Our third grade class went outside to observe signs of spring when we noticed a fairly big milkweed in our school garden. We turned over some leaves and found 3 monarch eggs. We haven't seen any monarch butterflies, but we know one has been here!" Cub Run, KY

"We saw a monarch butterfly in our garden at Wiley International Magnet School," reports Mrs. Abel's 2nd grade class. Raleigh, NC

Crossfield Elementary students were on vacation, so when 2nd grade teacher Connie Lehman discovered milkweed in the outdoor classroom she posted a picture. "I was hoping students on spring break could log in and see it." Herndon, VA

April Flowers
Flowers are blooming in backyards and schoolyards. Monarchs follow a nectar corridor as they migrate!

Look Closely
Image KA Stilwell

Look Kids!
Image Connie Lehman

Milkweed and monarch butterfly eggs at school in Cub Run, Kentucky
A Spring Surprise
Image Janet Kistler
April Flowers
What nectar sources can you find in April? Go outside and see. Then post a picture with your next sighting report!
Slideshow: Nectar-fueled Migrations: Compare a Bird and a Butterfly
Like the monarch butterfly, the ruby-throated hummingbird migrates north in the spring, using nectar to fuel its journey. Although one is a bird and the other a butterfly, they are heading north for the same reasons. Use the slideshow and research-ready resources to spark students' curiosity and explore this essential question:

Essential Question
How do the nectar-fueled migrations of a bird and a butterfly compare?


The Migration: Maps and Journal Page
Let's find out when and where monarchs and milkweed appear this spring.
Monarch Butterfly Winter Sightings Map of milkweed emergence: Spring 2011 Worksheet: Comparison Chart | Monarch Butterflies and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
First Monarch
(map | animation | sightings)
First Milkweed
(map | animation | sightings)
The next monarch migration update will be posted on April 19, 2012.