Monarch Migration Update: March 29, 2000

Today's Report Includes:

The Monarch's Journey North
During the past week, another 36 monarch sightings were reported. Now that the migration has been underway for 3-4 weeks, what pattern is your map beginning to show? How far does the migration advance each week? Do the monarchs move straight northward from Mexico?

Try This!

1. On your map, find the monarch that was sighted in Demorest, Georgia (34 N, -83 W)
2. Measure the distance this monarch has traveled from the sanctuaries in Angangueo, Mexico (19 N, -100W). Put a string on your map, and let the string follow the contours of the Gulf Coast, so that you're sure to measure the full distance.
3. Now stretch the string the same distance, but straight northward from the sanctuaries in Mexico.

Challenge Question #21
"If the monarch that was sighted in Demorest, Georgia (34 N, -83 W) had flown straight northward, instead of to the east, where would it be?" (Give the name of the state it would be in, and try to estimate the latitude and longitude.)

Challenge Question #22
"What does this suggest about the direction of the spring monarch migration? Why do you think monarchs travel in the direction that today's map shows?"

Do Most Monarchs Migrate On Weekends?
One pattern we notice each year is that most migrating monarchs are seen on Saturdays and Sundays. Do you think monarchs migrate on weekends? As a class, discuss this idea before reading on...

Did you consider this? How might the behavior of OBSERVERS affect the results? Our goal is to collect information about the behavior of monarchs. Therefore, all season you must keep our method of collecting data in mind.

Challenge Question #23
"Make a list of all the ways that the observers might affect the results of our study." (First prize goes to the class with the longest list of examples!)

Background About Weather and Spring Migration
How is spring monarch migration related to wind and weather? Bill Calvert shares some of his observations this week:

"In the fall, it's easy to see why monarchs come south on cold fronts (or 'northers' they are called in Texas). It's like catching a bus going your way - in this case the ride is even free!" he says. "But in the spring, the situation is not as clear. However, from my own observations, I'd put the behavior of each monarch I see in one of three categories..."

Read how Dr. Calvert describes monarch behavior in the spring. Then think about monarch behavior in the fall:

Challenge Question #24
"In what ways might you expect monarch migration to be different in the spring than in the fall? (Think through the "goal" of each season's migration. Also think about possible differences between males and females.)

Mountain Schools Now Receiving Migration News!

Although the monarchs have now left the Mexican sanctuaries behind, for the first time this year, news of their journey north will be sent back to the people who share their mountain home with the monarchs every winter.

This spring, over 1,000 students in the schools surrounding Angangueo will be able to follow the migration north. As the butterflies fly over your homes, schools and cites, we'll send the news back to them.

Although schools in this region are not connected to the Internet, there is a boy and a FAX machine that will make this possible. Fernando Romero, who lives with his family in the center of Angangeuo, will spread the news. Like a paper boy, he'll walk through Angangueo and deliver the information to the homes of 30 different teachers. These teachers live in the center of town, and will take the migration news up to their classrooms in the mountains. There the students will map the migration, just as you're doing in your classroom.

"My students want to learn so much more about the 'other side' where the butterflies fly away to," said the second grade teacher at Jesus De Nazareno School. "They see monarchs everyday here in the winter season, but don't completely understand that these same butterflies fly thousands of miles each year. Now with teachers and students observing Monarchs in these three countries, my classroom can feel apart of a beautiful cycle in biology and learn about another culture. It is a simple exercise, but my students are just delighted."
Picture of class at Escuela Jesus De Nazareno:

Seruando Nieto Gomez, second and fifth grade teacher at Lazaro Cardenas Primary School said, "It is important to continue a friendship with students who see the same butterflies that travel from one backyard to another thousands of miles away."

Meanwhile back in town where his parents own a general goods store, Fernando will maintain a migration map for the local people to enjoy. Next to the big sacks of rice and all types of beans is the migration map. The neighbors, friends and other shoppers come into the store to buy everything from chile peppers to soap and fertilizer. Erasto Romero, Fernando's father, tells his customers how proud he is to share the story of the journey north with his community. After all, the butterflies are a central part of the community! Now everyone can see as the monarchs fly out of Mexico, across the United States and finally into Canada.
Coming Next Week: Symbolic Monarch Update
We know you're eager to hear when YOUR butterflies will be coming north from Mexico. Watch for an update next week with details.

How to Respond to Today's Monarch Challenge Questions|