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FINAL Symbolic Monarch Migration Update: May 12, 2000

Today's Report Includes:

Symbolic Monarchs Now on Their Way!
Congratulations to All Participants!
The symbolic monarchs are now completing the final leg of their long migration.

We know you'll enjoy the beautiful butterflies that are coming this year. A huge THANKS goes to Papalote's Martha Sanchez, who's responsible for the high quality of butterflies you're about to receive. (Imagine if it were your job to find the thousands and thousands of Mexican children that she did!)

Special thanks also goes to these volunteers who last Saturday spent a beautiful spring day inside packing the butterflies for their safe journey!

Cathie Plaehn, Anders Imboden, Jim Nanemann, Judy Lander, Terry Abel, Rachael Matsumoto, Gabrielle Telford, Emily Wolff, Jennifer Dunlavy, Robin Euphosin, Barbra Havrilak, Emile Reider, Katie Hasig, Kyle Potter, Sue Beiersdorf, Carol Sauro, Renee Gaylif, Rosie Johnson, Rich Johnson, Sarah Lindsey and Casandra Asleim

We are one week behind schedule, due to delays in delivery from Mexico, and we apologize for any inconvenience this late delivery may have caused. School mail systems can be slow, so please allow time for your envelope to arrive before contacting us.


Special Delivery in Canada
It takes a little longer for Symbolic Butterflies to fly to Canada, but thanks to Mr. Rod Murray's class in Toronto, Canadian butterflies will have special care. Journey North is sending Canadian envelopes to Toronto, and they will be mailed in Canada using the Canadian postage provided. Thank you, Rod Murray!

Continue the Cycle of Friendship
Once you receive your symbolic butterflies:
1) Get to Know Your New Friend
  • Write to the Mexican student who sent your butterfly, and begin your own, direct correspondence.

2) Try to Pass the Butterfly On

  • If you find any butterflies that are addressed to someone else, try to mail it to that student. If you like, include your own letter. (When addressed to someone else, this means that the Mexican student who sent the butterfly you are holding, received a butterfly last fall from the U.S. or Canadian student to whom this is addressed.) By sending the butterfly on, you can be part of a 3-way circle of friendship, united by the monarch butterfly.

3) Lost and Found

  • You may have a butterfly with an addresses that is hard to read or is incomplete. This is usually because the Mexican students--who speak Spanish--we're trying to copy unfamiliar words and addresses off the butterfly they received. In addition, sometimes the handwriting of young children is also hard to decipher. In these cases, use the web as a "Lost and Found" as instructed below. (For example: You may receive a butterfly that clearly shows the name and school of a student, but not their state or country. By posting the information you do have on the web, that student may come to the web and find your note.)

4) Share Your Butterfly's Story

  • Each symbolic butterfly has a unique story, and connects people in a personal way. Come to the web to share your story!

Use the Web to Share Stories and as an Electronic Lost and Found
The Symbolic Butterflies are now scattered across the continent. We've set up a meeting place on the Journey North Website, so you can follow their trails. Use the web as a place to share your stories, and as a "lost and found."

Field Guide to Symbolic Monarch Butterflies
Each symbolic butterfly has a its own history. Some were made in the north and have flown round trip. Others were made during the winter by a Mexican student, and represent a new generation. Use this Field Guide for clues that tell about your butterfly's journey:

New Butterflies, Made in Mexico

Field Marks: Look for Spanish writing! Mexican children are allowed to keep a butterfly as long as they make a new one. (They like to be able to keep the butterfly they received, just as you do. They also want to make a butterfly themselves.) These new butterflies become part of the symbolic monarch population and represent the next generation.

New Butterflies, Made in Mexico, Addressed to Another Student
Field Marks: As mentioned above, sometimes you may see the name and address of a U.S. or Canadian student written on the new butterfly. In such cases, the Mexican student has written the name of the student whose butterfly he received. (If you find such a butterfly, please pass it on!)

Round-Trip Butterflies, Made in the U.S. or Canada Last Fall

Field Marks: Look for the name and address of a Canadian or U.S. student on the butterfly. This means you have a butterfly that went to Mexico, was cared for this winter by a Mexican student, and was then sent back northward.
Some round-trip butterflies were "stamped" by the Mexican student. This is because so many butterflies were sent to Mexico (over 54,000!), there were not enough children to write back personally to each. However, remember that you can contact the U.S. or Canadian student who originally made this butterfly! (For example: Susie in Portland, Maine may receive a butterfly that was made last fall by Tom in Nebraska. Tom would love to know where his butterfly landed!)
Some round-trip butterflies have a letter stapled to them. This can be confusing at first, when you see that it's a U.S. or Canadian butterfly. If the letter is written in Spanish you know it was cared for by the Mexican student who wrote the letter.

Special Monarchs Tagged in the Monarch Sanctuaries
A few lucky students will receive butterflies that spent the winter with a student who lives in the same mountains where the real monarchs over-winter. Some of these butterflies are new, and others are round-trip butterflies. All have yellow tags.

Special Monarchs Tagged on the Monarch's Migration Pathway
Other lucky students will receive a butterfly was made by a student who lives in northern Mexico, on the monarch's migration pathway.
Every fall, rivers of monarchs funnel overhead on their way to the sanctuaries in Central Mexico. About 20 years ago, when her children were young, Senora Rocio Trevino's family moved to Saltillo, Coahuilla ( 25.25 N,-100.01 W). Every fall, thousands of butterflies would swarm through their town. People thought they were invading insects, and children made a game to see how many they could kill. As Senora Trevino remembers, her children held contests to see who could make the biggest pile! Much later, she came to realize that these butterflies were the same, famous monarch butterflies that spend the winter in the mountains of Michoacan, over 400 miles to the south. Senora Trevino became concerned that uninformed people, like her own children, weren't aware of this and were killing them. So began the "Correo Real" Monarch Education Project. Senora Trevino coordinates students' reports of monarch butterflies from across Mexico. This butterfly was made by one of the students who learned about the monarchs because of Senora Trevino.

Not All Monarchs Survive the Trip
Unfortunately, each year we send more butterflies to Mexico than we receive back in the spring. This year, we had about an 66% return rate. This means that each class should expect to receive about 66% as many butterflies as they sent. We wish it were possible for each and every student who sent a butterfly to receive one back in the spring!

We recommend you prepare your students to view this as a class project, rather than as an individual exchange. Many teachers make a bulletin board where all the monarchs sent to the class are displayed. Use this as an opportunity for students to find parallels between the symbolic and real monarch migrations. See if they can come up with examples such as these:
  • Monarchs do not belong to an individual person or to an individual country. Because they migrate, the monarchs themselves are a shared resource. (Discuss how it feels not to own or have control over something you care about. But try to focus on the remarkable fact that it is this sharing that perpetuates the cycle. Just as the symbolic monarchs must be shared, responsibility for real monarchs is shared and, in this sharing, the cycle continues.)
  • We expect the Mexican people to care for the real and symbolic monarchs each winter--and we give them nothing in return. (Because monarchs travel between the richest and poorest regions in our hemisphere, discuss whether this expectation is fair. Similarly, if the quality of the Mexican butterflies is less than those your class made, discuss how economic differences might affect the art materials available to students.)
  • Migration is a survival story, full of risks and dangers. In nature, most individuals do not survive migration. After all, of the millions of real monarchs that over-wintered in Mexico, most have now died! (Thus, a return rate of 66% is actually something to celebrate! List all the ways the symbolic monarchs might have been lost or damaged, so that 33% didn't return.)

We hope these thoughts will help you turn any disappointment into a positive learning experience. At the same time, rest assured that we are continually working to improve this return rate. We understand that this can put teachers in a difficult position.

Copyright 2000 Journey North. All Rights Reserved. Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to our feedback form

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