Dozens of monarchs seen nectaring on Meadow Blazingstar (Liatris ligulistylis) adjacent to Hwy 19 and railroad tracks, 2 miles east of Winthrop, Minnesota, Aug. 28, 2013. 44.542860 -94.314613
I toured the GMO corn and soybean monocultures of south-central
and southwestern Minnesota Aug. 27-29 as that is the region and
time window when fall migrant monarchs are typically the most
I found numbers of migrants were very low by historical Minnesota
standards, but common by western USA standards. The alfalfa
fields had only widely scattered individuals and no roosts were
found in the evening adjacent to those fields as would be typical
in an average or high monarch population year.
Meadow Blazingstar (Liatris ligulistylis) - was blooming strongly this
year and many monarchs - sometimes dozens - were seen in
patches of those plants that were typically located adjacent to
railroad tracks. In a 4 minute video I shot (above) of one such large
patch that had dozens of monarchs.
Overall, it appears the fall migrant population in southern Minnesota
is moderately lower than last August. And like last August, it was
difficult to find caterpillars (I didn't see any). Thus at this point it
appears the overwintering population in Mexico could possibly lower
than last winter. However, the summer monarch breeding population
in the huge region between Iowa and Texas and westward to the
Rocky Mountains may to be higher (based on mid-late summer
sighting reports to Journey North) this year and could potentially
boost the numbers of fall migrants entering Texas and Mexico to
levels near or above those seen last year. We should know by
early October based on the number and size of the "fall roost"
reports to Journey North.