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Monarch Migration Update: March 30, 1999

Today's Report Includes:

First Monarchs Reach Arkansas and Mississippi
According to observers in the south, the migration moved into 2 new states during the past week. Meanwhile, several people in Texas report a steady stream of monarchs coming through--with the females laying eggs on any milkweed they can find.

Today's migration data are provided above. After you map the data each week, think about this:

Challenge Question #19
"In detail, carefully describe the pattern you see on your migration map. Where do you think the monarchs will appear next next? Why?"

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

Field Notes from Texas

Dallas, TX (32.79N, -96.80W)
March 28, 1999

"The migration is definitely picking up since my first sighting on the 16th. On the sunny days the monarchs are out in numbers! (Weather has been cloudy and mild a good bit of the time since 3/16.) As a butterfly breeder I'm out 'in the field' a good bit of the day and see anywhere from 20 to 30 monarchs a day.

"Females are eagerly searching for milkweed and virtually every sprig of Asclepias viridis that I find has at least one egg--and usually two or three. The A. viridis is still very short, only about an inch or inch and a half, but the Asclepias asperula is, as usual, coming up much faster, with some stalks already reaching 7 inches in length. Also as usual, the monarchs are bypassing the A. asperula for the shorter A. viridis. There are eggs on the A. asperula, to be sure, but not as many as compared to the A. viridis.

"Overall, I'm pleased with the numbers of adults -- considering what a dismal fall migration there was through Dallas last year. I was expecting there to be very low numbers back this way in the spring, but this seems to be an average spring,
Dale Clark (
Dallas County Lepidopterists' Society

Port Lavaca, TX (28.53N, -96.68W)
March 28, 1999

"The monarchs we saw this weekend were very tattered and faded. One yesterday had over 25% of the wing area missing from holes. We observed two pair mating and all four showed wear and tear. A female visited the A. curassavica for over an hour, depositing
eggs on approx 30 plants. Twice we noticed that, while nectaring, she would take time to deposit an egg on a flower bud. Our being in the yard did not seem to bother her."
Harlen Aschen (

Austin, TX (30.23N, -97.71W)
March 28, 1999

"On Sunday March 28th, lots of monarchs were seen cruising over fields and prairies in central Texas. We saw twelve on Sunday and one on Friday. (Saturday was mostly cloudy and butterflies were not flying.) Most seemed to be females who were searching for host plants (milkweed). Most were in surprisingly good condition. The central Texas host, the antelope horn milkweed (Asclepias asperula), was up and in flower."
Bill Calvert (

When Will the Egg Layed in Texas Be Ready to Fly?

Challenge Question #20
"If a monarch egg is laid in Texas today (March 30), when will it: hatch and become a larva, pupate and become a chrysalis, emerge as an adult monarch--and be ready to fly north?"

Challenge Question #21
"How many eggs do you suppose one monarch can lay?"

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

Field Work While You Wait
Monitoring Changes in Monarch Habitat
As you wait for the monarch migration to reach your home town, watch how their habitat changes BEFORE they arrive:

Monarch Migration Checklist
Please print this Monarch Migration Checklist and take it with you in the field. Take regular notes about the plants and flowers available to monarchs, as well as about the wind, the weather and temperature. This information is important even when you DON'T see butterflies. You can only see changes if you have observations to compare.

Milkweed and Migration
Survey your habitat for milkweed on a regular basis. Does milkweed emerge from the soil before the first monarch arrives? If so, by how many days? Record the height of milkweed as it grows this spring, and include this information when you report your first monarch. Here's a helpful online guide to learn to identify milkweed:

Food to Fuel the Migration?
What's available for adult monarchs to eat as they travel? Keep your eyes open for the first flowers to bloom in your area. Are any flowers available now? Record the dates each type of flower becomes available. (Remember to include flowering trees--even apple or cherry blossoms--and inconspicuous flowers such as clover and dandelions.)

Report the FIRST MONARCH EGGS Seen on Milkweed
Inspect your local milkweed plants for the FIRST MONARCH EGGS. Though you can't spend every day out in the field watching for monarchs, you CAN check for eggs every day. If you see eggs, you know that monarchs have arrived even if you haven't seen them!

When you report your monarch sightings to Journey North, please include as much of this information as possible in the "Comments" section of your Field Data Form.

How to Respond to Today's Monarch Challenge Questions

IMPORTANT: Please answer ONLY ONE question in each e-mail message!

1. Address an e-mail message to:
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question # 19 (or Challenge Question # 20 or # 21)
3. In the body of EACH message, answer ONE of the questions above.

The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on April 6, 1999.

Copyright 1999 Journey North. All Rights Reserved. Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to our feedback form

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