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Monarch Migration Update: May 11, 1999

Today's Report Includes:

Today's Migration Map and Data

First Monarch Sighted in Minnesota!
Just moments ago this news arrived from Jim Gilbert:

"I saw a monarch butterfly today (5/10/99). I'm sure it was a male. It was flying around about 75' away in one of the perennial gardens at the Linneaus Arboretum at 3:20 p.m. It was a brightly colored monarch; it wasn't faded and frayed. Obviously not from Mexico, but one that had emerged in the south."
St. Peter, MN (44.32 N, -93.96 W)

Jim Gilbert knows monarchs. In fact, he and a monarch he tagged in 1975 have an important place in monarch history. The world learned about the Mexican monarch sanctuaries in the August, 1976 National Geographic. Dr. Fred Urquhart, who invented monarch tagging in 1937, searched for almost 40 years before discovering their winter destination. Here he describes his first visit:

"While we stared in wonder, a branch three inches thick broke under its burden of languid butterflies and crashed to the earth, spilling its living cargo. I stooped to examine the mass of dislodged monarchs. There, to my amazement, was one bearing a white tag! By incredible chance I had stumbled on a butterfly tagged by one Jim Gilbert, far away in Chaska, Minnesota. Later Mr. Gilbert sent me a photograph of the very field of goldenrod where he had marked this frail but tireless migrant."

Here is the historic 1975 photo of Jim Gilbert and his students tagging the Minnesota monarch Dr. Urquhart found in Mexico.
It's only fitting that Jim should be the first to see a monarch this spring at 44 N, and in his home state of Minnesota.

A Second Migration is Now Underway
The sighting of a fresh monarch reminds us: The children of the Mexican monarchs should now be emerging in force. Watch carefully for these fresh monarchs of the next generation. Pay careful attention to the condition of the wings.

Even if you live in a southern region, and saw your first monarch weeks ago, please REPORT your first monarch of the next generation. Let's see if your observations reflect the increase in numbers we expect when the 1st spring generation emerges.

When and Where Offspring Are Emerging
Your migration map shows something you probably haven't thought about before. Each monarch sighting on your map actually represents many monarchs, more than were seen or reported. And these monarchs laid hundreds and hundreds of eggs in the areas marked on your map.

Let's estimate that it takes 30 days for a monarch egg to develop into an adult. Then 30 days AFTER each monarch sighting, many monarchs are probably emerging in that location. By simply changing the dates on the legend of your map by 30 days, you have a new picture: This map shows when and where monarchs of the next generation should emerge.

Assuming 30 days for monarch eggs to develop:

Dates Monarch Eggs Laid

Dates Adults Emerge

< March 14, 1999

< April 14, 1999

Mar 15 - Mar 28

Apr 14 - Apr 27

Mar 29 - Apr 11

Apr 28 - May 11

Apr 12 - Apr 25

May 12 - May 25

Apr 26 - May 9

May 26 - June 8

Challenge Question #35
"Where have monarchs emerged as of today, May 11? Count the number of states and list their names. How would you complete this sentence: New monarchs are probably emerging now in all the places where monarchs had been seen by ____."

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

"Monarch Lab" Now Open and You're Invited
Dr. Karen Oberhauser has opened the doors to her monarch research lab:

You can get involved now by participating in the "Monarch Larval Monitoring Project", a citizen science project involving volunteers from across the United States and Canada in monarch research. Your help is needed in conducting weekly monarch and milkweed surveys.

The site will soon share examples of monarch research projects that are being conducted by high school and middle school students. Led by a real research biologist, students can learn the same processes and techniques to do monarch research of their own. Be sure to visit the site. You'll be amazed to see the many simple, yet fascinating, experiments students can and are doing!

Larval Taste Test
Discussion of Challenge Question #34

Last week Dr. Calvert asked how you might conduct a taste-test for monarch larvae. Here are research ideas from students in CT, PA and from Dr. Calvert himself:

Male vs. Female Monarch Behavior
Discussion of Challenge Question #32

Based on their need to reproduce, Challenge Question #32 asked how you think the behavior of male and female monarchs might be different.

Thanks to Dr. Karen Oberhauser for help in summarizing some of the differences listed here. Karen has studied the reproductive behavior of monarchs for 14 years.

Monarch Tracking Will Continue Through June--With Your Help
Even though the Journey North season ends on June 1, weekly migration data will be provided until the monarchs reach the end of the road.


Please help by sending your observations--even if by phone, FAX, or in
person. Each and every sighting is important, so please don't forget to
send yours.

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question

1. Address an e-mail message to:
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #35
3. In the body of your message, answer the question above.

Journey North
Year End Evaluation
Please share your thoughts

The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on May 18, 1999.

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

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