Monarch Migration Update: April 26, 2000
Today's Report Includes:
Highlights From the Migration Trail
Among the newsworthy observations:
We cheer the monarchs on as they travel northward, but the first monarchs to arrive might find that their habitat is not ready for them. Last week we explored the...
Risks of Early Arrival
Discussion of 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?"
Mrs. Lodge's students in Hebron, CT thought about this carefully:
"My students discussed the problems of having the butterfly come up north this early.
Are Monarchs Ahead of Their Milkweed?
Let's look back at some of the recent monarch sightings, and compare the timing to milkweed growth:
In Gainesville, GA, North Hall Middle School reported their first monarch on April 6th. On April 16, teacher Mark Barton sent these observations: "Most of our milkweed emerged April 4. Now most all of it has numerous eggs. One common milkweed has about 12 eggs on only 6 leaves. The plant is only 4 inches high."
Dr. Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch saw the first monarch in Lawrence, KS on April 12. "In a few areas, particularly where the soil is warm, milkweeds are starting to make their appearance," he observed.
Monarch biologist Dr. Lincoln Brower wrote from Virginia: "Today (12 April) we have our first milkweed shoot coming up.....two tiny shoots about 1/2 inch, from the base of one A. syriaca. And much to my surprise, I saw a well-worn monarch that almost certainly was a female on the Sweet Briar College campus today. Pat Sutton of New Jersey Audubon, said she saw a monarch in the Cape May, NJ area on April 6. There is no question that these monarchs are ahead of their milkweeds."
According to students at Principia Lower School in St. Louis, MO, monarchs began to arrive on April 15th--and several more were reported a few days later. We had contacted Bob Coulter of the Missouri Botanical Gardens for a milkweed report: "As of Tuesday, April 11 nothing happening. Our on-site horticulturist checked the [milkweed] roots, and not much is going on."
In Monticello, Arkansas, where monarchs have been present for several weeks, Mr. Jim Edson made this observation: "Yesterday I caught a faded, worn female and put her in a cage with a couple of cuttings of milkweed _Asclepias curassavica_. By this afternoon, she had laid 87 eggs before I let her go."
Please Report Your Milkweed Observations!
Take a moment today to go out and check your surroundings for milkweed. What do you see? As you watch to the south for the first monarchs to arrive, watch under your feet for the first milkweed to emerge.
Which will come first, the monarchs or the milkweed? Please let us know! Include notes about your milkweed when you report your FIRST monarch. Or, if you'd like to report now, record milkweed notes in the "Monarch (OTHER observations)" category.
Next Generation Soon on Its Way!
If you live in the north, where monarchs have not yet arrived, YOUR first monarchs of the season will probably be the children of the butterflies from Mexico. The next generation of monarchs is now developing. Depending on temperature, the time for development varies. But an estimated number of days the monarch spends at each stage of development is:
Egg 3-5 days
Larvae 9-14 days
Chrysalis 8-13 days
Total 20-32 days
Turn Your Migration Map Into a New One...
(To respond to these questions, please follow
the instructions below.)
How Long Have These Monarchs Been Alive?
Think back to when you came to school last fall. You may have raised your own monarchs and sent them on their way to Mexico. If your monarchs are still alive, how old would they be now? The monarchs that over-wintered in Mexico are now in their final days. They've been alive for a long, long time. Let's use this example to see how old they are:
How to Respond to Today's Monarch Challenge Questions|
IMPORTANT: Please answer ONLY ONE
1. Address an e-mail message to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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