Today's News Report Your Sightings How to Use Journey North Search Journey North

Monarch Butterfly Migration Update: April 18, 2002

Today's Report Includes:

News from the Migration Trail

We scoured the countryside last week inquiring for monarchs and again received only scattered reports. Thus, the overwintering population still appears to be concentrated in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, and will probably not travel much further than today?s map shows. Of note this week:

A record-early report from Port Republic, New Jersey on April 10: ?In 15 years? watching we have twice had monarchs in April, but both times 2 weeks later: April 25, 1991 and April 21, 1997, the latter ovipositing on tiny milkweed sprouts. All other first sightings have been June. No milkweed yet this year, that I have noticed.?

Great excitement in Nashville, TN on April 17: ?Wow! We saw our first Monarch butterfly today, just after we discovered the milkweed shoots peeking out of the ground. It was flying low over the playground at about 12:00 (noon). There was much shouting and excitement when we saw it! We loved seeing a Monarch again! We've waited a long time since last October!? David Lipscomb Elementary School

Monarch numbers are down as much as ten-fold this spring, according to data collected in Cross Creek Florida at Dr. Lincoln Brower?s long-term monitoring site. ?Practically none are getting to Florida,? says Brower. ?I think what happens in Texas/Arkansas/Louisiana is probably key. The entire population is essentially there.?

Meanwhile in Texas, Jane Borland found little milkweed east of Dallas during her monitoring work on April 14. ?I drove a 200 mile transect, and stopped every 10 miles. Out of the 20 stops, I only found milkweed in two places." In total, she found 2 eggs and no larvae. "Conclusion - the milkweed is VERY late,? said Jane. "We are usually in full swing monitoring here in Arlington by the 2nd week in March."

Latest Milkweed Map: Please Report from Your Area!

We?re interested in noting how closely monarch migration is tied to milkweed development. Please watch carefully and report when your local milkweed's first leaves are available for monarchs.

New Designation on Migration Map: ?Unconfirmed Sightings?
It has been difficult to track this stage of the migration this spring. In previous years, as the population advanced into new areas, early sightings were promptly confirmed by subsequent sightings. Because the population is low this spring, this cross-validation has not been occurring. To indicate this level of uncertainty we?ve made a change on this week?s map. You?ll notice an ?X? marking questionable sightings. We?ve contacted observers for more information and will only include these on subsequent maps if both we and the observer feel confident about accuracy.

Gone to Butterfly Heaven
Answers to Challenge Questions #20 & 21

We checked in with Jim Edson to find out how the next monarch generation is developing in Arkansas:

?Things are going fine for me, but the female went to butterfly heaven the afternoon of April 14th. She had started slowing down on egg production towards the end of the week, and she finished with a grand total of 256 eggs--including the 4 eggs laid on the day she died.?

Story of a Life?s Journey
What a survivor that butterfly in Arkansas was. If a monarch could talk, just think of the stories it could tell! This lesson encourages reflection on all that you?ve learned about monarchs during the year. Send us your story. We'd love to know what you and your imaginary butterfly have learned this school year.

How Long Has the Overwintering Generation Been Alive?
Think back to the time 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 are they now? How long did the butterfly that landed in Arkansas live?

Challenge Question #24:
"Assume the butterfly in Arkansas emerged as an adult last August 14 in New York. How many days old was the butterfly when it died on April 14? (How many weeks old? How many months old?)

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

Tip for Teachers:
Do not distribute the worksheet below until students have had time to think this math problem through. They probably won't need the worksheet! Have them grapple with the question in small groups, for example. The worksheet below illustrates one way to think about the solution.

When Will the Next Generation Emerge?
Challenge Question #19

According to Jim Edson, the Arkansas caterpillars reached the 5th instar stage on April 11th, and the first chrysalis formed on April 13th. So when will adult butterflies be on the wing? Use this life cycle prediction chart and send us your prediction:

Challenge Question #19:
"On what date do you think Jim Edson's first monarch of the next generation will emerge in Arkansas?"

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

More photos coming!
Photos by Jim Edson,
University of Arkansas




April 2
2nd instar larva

April 5
3rd instar, just after molting from 2nd instar

April 9
4th instar larva

The Cycle of Life Continues: Watch for New Wings!
It has been 14 days since students at Weslaco East High School at the southern tip of Texas raised and released a new monarch, representing the first spring generation. Fresh-winged butterflies will soon replace their parents.

When you see a monarch, watch carefully and note the condition of the wings. Let?s determine how far the over-wintering generation expands, and where the next generation picks up the path.

Noticia de la migracion de la mariposa monarca
As the butterflies fly over your homes, schools and cities, we're sending the news back to the students in Mexico so they can track the migration too. Here is this week's report in Spanish, with an English translation:

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Questions:

IMPORTANT: 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 #24.
3. In the body of EACH message, give your answer to ONE of the questions above.

The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on April 25, 2002

Copyright 2002 Journey North. All Rights Reserved.
Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to
our feedback form

Today's News

Report Your Sightings

How to Use Journey North

Search Journey North