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Monarch Migration Update: April 12, 2000

Today's Report Includes:

First Monarchs Reported in Tennessee, Illinois...and Connecticut!
The migration surged northward last week. Among the most surprising news:
  • A monarch was reported in Connecticut on Saturday, April 8
  • Two sightings from Illinois on Monday, April 10
  • Monarchs arrived suddenly in Tennessee, with 6 reports within 2 days.
  • See This Week's Monarch Migration Data

    Monarch Migration as of April 12, 2000

    Plant Hardiness Zones
    Click to Enlarge)

Take a look at this week's migration map and data, then see if you can answer these questions:

Challenge Question #28
"Do you think the migration is following the same pattern as shown on the Plant Hardiness Zones map? Describe why. In which Zones have monarchs now arrived?"

Challenge Question #29
"In how many NEW states were monarchs seen during the past week? What is the total number of states in which the monarchs have now arrived?"

Challenge Question #30
"Can you think of 3 reasons why it might be risky for a monarch to travel as far north as Connecticut this early in the spring?"

(To respond to these questions, please follow the instructions below.)

Reading Comments for Clues
When unusual or surprising sightings occur, what questions come to mind? Listen to your questions! Write them down! Don't simply take our word for it! Before you put migration sightings on your map, make sure you trust the accuracy of the information. Remember: All sightings and observers' comments are available on the Journey North website. Come to the web and read the observers' comments. If you still have questions, contact the observer by e-mail. The lesson "You're the Scientist" explores ways people question information, and how they decide what sources they believe. Remember, this is your study and...

On April 8th, Mr. Andrew Brand of Hamden, CT (41.37 N, -72.94 W) reported:

"While working outside today, I watched an adult monarch trying to fly in the strong southwest winds (15-25 mph) across our Christmas tree fields. It stayed low and rested frequently. It appeared to be faded and worn, but not tattered. I also saw the butterfly later in the day. Recently there have also been very early bird sightings in the Northeast (warblers etc.) so this may be an early season. I imagine the southwest winds could have pushed this monarch along."

Challenge Question #31
"Do you think this observation is accurate? What information does the observer give that supports your opinion? How does the migration map support your opinion?"

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

Which Way Was the Wind Blowing?
Follow the link below to the Weather Maps Archives. In the days leading up to the migration sighting in Connecticut, which way was the wind blowing? How might weather have influenced the migration?

Monarchs in the News
Write Your Own Newspaper Column
Tell your community that the monarchs are on their way! Offer to be a reporter for your local or school newspaper. Students at Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School wrote their own weekly news column called "Nature Track" for their community newspaper. February to June, the students captured highlights from Journey North News to include in their column. For suggestions for your weekly news reports, see:

Discussion of Challenge Question #25
Students sent this long list of possible reasons why monarch sightings dropped from 38 during the week of March 22-28 to only one during the week of March 29-April 4. Thanks to Mrs. Collins' students in Tennessee, Mrs. Mass's class in Maryland and Ms. Dempsy's students in Massachusetts for sharing these thoughts:
  • The monarchs might have stopped to have babies (lay eggs)
  • Might have died (tied in with stopped to lay eggs, then died)
  • Might be too cold to travel
  • Might be too tired
  • Might be too windy
  • Might be too hot
  • They needed food, water, rest, and sunshine
  • Perhaps there were several cloudy days, and perhaps it was rainy weather
  • * The observers might have been too active and frightened the butterflies away

We don't know the answer to this question either! In fact, we had many of these same questions when we saw the pattern change. Here are additional points:

  • Notice that the number of sightings jumped back up again this week, but that several of the sightings OCCURRED during the week of March 29-April 4, but were not REPORTED until this week. (This affects our migration map every week, however, and shouldn't have caused such a large difference.)
  • Several people commented that they had been on vacation during the week of March 29-April 4.
  • However, back to the Weather Maps Archives, look at the regions where monarchs had been sighted before the week of March 29-April 4. (For example, states like Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, and along the East Coast.) North winds and a cold front may have kept monarchs in these areas. Therefore, fewer new "first sightings" would have been reported, since monarchs had already been seen in those areas.

Who's Watching for Butterflies?
Here is a map showing where Journey North participants are located.

Challenge Question #32
"Describe what you notice about the distribution of Journey North observers. Why is this map always important to keep in mind when you interpret migration sightings?"

How to Respond to Today's Monarch Challenge Questions|

question in each e-mail message!

1. Address an e-mail message to:
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #28 (#29, #30, #31 or #32).
3. In the body of the EACH message, answer ONE of the questions above.

The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on April 19, 2000.

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