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Finding Milkweed
May 4, 2017 by Elizabeth Howard
  Monarchs travel hundreds of miles across the landscape in search of the milkweed they need for egg-laying. How do they find it?  
Monarch Butterfly

"A faded female laying eggs on newly emerged milkweed - A. syriaca and A. incarnata."
Sighted April 27, 2017 in Lititz, PA by Kim Frey.

Waiting for the Surge
The lull between generations continues. The first half of May is always the slowest time of year, and this year is no exception.

Observers are seeing the last of the monarchs from Mexico and their physical descriptions are increasingly dire. These "torn, tattered, dull, faded, pale" butterflies may be 9 months old!

Hot and Cold
Monarchs reponded to this week's temperature extremes:

  • First sightings were reported as far north as New York City during a heat wave in the eastern U.S., where northern regions were as warm as Texas.
  • The migration's northward advance came to a halt in the Midwest where freezing temperatures and snow exposed monarchs to the risks of frost.

Finding Milkweed
Monarchs have an uncanny ability to find milkweed. This week they found some under a deck, beside a pool, in potted plants, wildlife parks, backyards and schoolyards, on milkweed that was just emerging and on plants in full bloom.

Milkweed isn't easy for us to find, so how do monarchs do it?

 

Monarch Butterfly
First for New York
Mary Pfeifer
Monarch Butterfly
Hot and Cold
Unisys

Milkweed damaged by frost
Risk of Frost
Elizabeth Howard
 

How Do Monarchs Find Milkweed?
More Slideshows

 

Companion Resources

Journal

Photo Gallery

Text Only Article

Teaching Suggestions

 

Driving Question

How do monarchs sense the world and which senses lead them to milkweed?

Evaluation: Share your thoughts!
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Journey North Evaluation
Spring Migration 2017
 
Report all monarchs you see — adults, eggs, larvae.
Monarch butterfly migration map Monarch butterfly migration map Monarch butterfly migration map
What to Report Adults
report | map | list
Eggs
report | map | list
Monarch butterfly migration map Map of milkweed emergence: Spring 2017 Monarch butterfly migration map
Larvae
report | map | list
Milkweed
report | map | list
Other Observations
report | map | list
     
 
 
Next May 11, 2017
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