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Monarch Butterfly

Comments From Observers: September 9, 1997

August 24
An estimated 20,000 monarchs were nectaring at this blooming alfalfa field. Surrounded by a miles of corn and soybean fields, these
40 acres of flowers seemed to be a magnet for hungry butterflies. Farmers try to cut alfalfa before it flowers, or "turns blue" as they say. When we returned to this site 2 days later, the farmer was there cutting the hay. Alfalfa hay is used for milk cows, and we were told that the food value decreases when it's allowed to flower. Monarchs were seen at wildflowers along the roadsides, but only singly. Nothing like this field attracted.
Elizabeth Donnelly and Jim Hillegass, Minneapolis, Minnesota
edonnelly@jriver.com and jriver@jriver.com

August 28
On 28 August I witnessed perhaps the largest flight of Monarchs I've ever seen. This was south across the extreme western end of Lake Ontario in southern Ontario at Hamilton. A cold front had passed through overnight and the wind was fairly brisk from the NNW. By working along the south shore of the lake here I estimated that approximately 1000/minute was coming ashore along a stretch of about 5 Kilometres (and they could have been flying further east where I didn't check). In the two hours 1500 - 1700 that I observed before the flight stopped I estimated that about 120 000 passed. It's quite possible that they started at 1000hr as conditions were good throughout. If so, more than .5 million passed on this single day!
Bob Curry Ancaster, ON bcurry@worldchat.com
Credit: Leps-l (Lepidopterists' listserv)

August 31
"Thousands of monarchs are gathering in the area and have been observed along the north shore of Lake Ontario. Naturalist Don Davis tagged about 900 during "Monarchs and Migrants weekend at Presquile Provincial Park near Brighton. Visitors from Oshawa reported seeing many monarchs in flight along the Highway 401 corridor. "
Sam Conroy, St Peters Elementary
Trenton, Ontario (45 N, -77 W)

September 2
"There were between 500 and 800 butterflies here on September 1st. Temperatures dropped late afternoon and the next day the butterflies were almost all gone."
Pari Ditmar in Glencoe, Minnesota (west of Minneapolis)

September 3
Two days later, and 250 miles down the trail, Kathy Reed reported from Malvern, Iowa:
"Sept 3 was the first night we noticed monarchs roosting in our trees. There were about 100 or so. We have about the same number roosting since the third. I have noticed more monarchs flying in a southern direction. Last year we had the most monarchs right when our asters were all in bloom. This year with our first sighting of roosting monarchs we only have part of a aster plant flowering. We first noticed them roosting 4 yrs ago.4 yrs ago we had the most . There were 1000 of them at least. Since that time they have been in the 100s. Last year they stayed 4 to 5 days.
Kathy Reed, Malvern, Iowa (41.03 N, -95.58 W)

September 3
The cold has greatly reduced numbers here since Wednesday. Last Thursday (Aug 28) there were many migrants here. We often see 6-10 trying to roost in our trees here 3 km North of the Lake. That is when I visit the municipaI Gardens down on the waterfront. I found a roost there last Thursday of 300 or so. Again on Tuesday (Sept. 2) there were another 300 in the same spot (most on exactly the same tree, exactly the same branch). I was able to go back in the a.m. and video tape them and photograph them! On Tuesday we tagged some as a first day of school activity and many were nectaring (a dozen or so) on the flowers that line the creek in the back of the schoolyard. We recaptured "Buttercup" (the name we gave a female) 5 hours after her release. Before releasing them, we predicted which direction they would fly. All 3 headed SW! I will be at Bronte Creek Provincial Park tommorrow (the park lies on the boundary between Oakville and Burlington to the west) tagging as many as we can. If all works out, I intend to go back to Long Point next Saturday to see if they are peaked there. (Long Point is also an established Monarch migration Preserve).
Rod Murray, Dolphin Senior Public School
Streetsville, Ontario rodmurr@astral.magic.ca

September 8
"What a difference a day makes! Yesterday, here and there lonely Monarch are making their way south from here in York, NE. We see solitary monarchs trying to make headway through 15 to 20 mph winds. They often get blown back and then seem to "rest" behind bushes before attempting to go again. Today as we left school there were nearly 200 monarch butterflies resting in the shade on the lower branches of the oak trees in front of our school. There was if any wind and the temperature was 90 degrees Fahrenheit. A few butterflies were feeding on our butterfly garden but most of them were heading for the trees to rest in the shade. We are having a cold front approach and some nasty looking storm clouds coming from the north so our butterflies should get a strong push south if they don't get banged up tonight in the storm. Other teachers have reported seeing many, many butterflies feeding on clematis and purple sedum."
York Middle School, York, NE
40.84N, -97.54 W)