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Monarch Butterfly Migration Update: April 2, 2004

Today's Report Includes:

At Last! Migration News from Texas
The monarchs advanced across Texas noticeably during the past week. In total, 38 sightings were reported. (Of those, notice how many occurred earlier but were not reported promptly. How might these reporting delays can affect our weekly interpretations?)

It's been a very weak showing as you can see when contrasting this year’s migration to those in years past:




Field Report from Texas by Dr. Calvert
Now back home in Texas, what does Dr. Calvert make of the migration so far? "The return of the monarchs seems delayed this year. Not so much in that they are not as far north as they usually are this time of the year--they seldom are north of the Red River by March 28th--but they have not traveled very far east. And, the numbers reported are much lower than previous years. The best guess is that the low numbers are due one or both of two factors..."

Writing Prompts for Your Science Journal

  1. What two factors does Dr. Calvert pose to explain the low number of monarchs seen so far this spring?
  2. How might his observations of colony breakup in Mexico explain the apparent late arrival of the monarchs?

Human Population and Monarch Reports: Any Correlation?
Be careful about potential pitfalls when interpreting data! Mike Quinn, entomologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, wonders if there is a correlation between the location of sightings in Texas and Texas population centers. "You might offer the students several different maps and ask them which one shows the best correlation to current monarch reports," he suggested. Take a look--what do you think?

Only Arkansas Added to State List: What Next?
For those keeping track, only one more state was added this week. A monarch was spotted that had just crossed into Arkansas, thanks to Ms. Brisco and student at Vera Kilpatrick Elementary in Texarkana. “We spotted our first adult monarch of the season while working in our outdoor classroom at school,” she wrote. What state do you think the butterflies will reach next?

Milkweed Ready and Waiting: Spring 2004's 1st Generation
Can you see the milkweed?
In what has become a spring tradition, Dr. Jim Edson is about to capture a female monarch. She will lay eggs and he will raise her offspring through the life cycle, from egg to larva to chrysalis to adult. You'll be able to follow the development online. All across the map, where monarchs have been spotted, the first spring generation will be developing at roughly the same rate. Thanks to Jim Edson, we’ll be able to estimate when a whole new generation will be ready to continue the journey north.

What nice milkweed plants he’s using to allure her. It’s hard to believe a monarch anywhere in the state could miss it!

Average Arrival Date in Arkansas: What's the Mean?
So, when will a monarch reach Dr. Edson? Let’s look at the “first sightings” records he has collected over the past 7 years in Monticello, Arkansas. What do they indicate?

Challenge Question #13
“What is the average arrival date for monarchs in Monticello, Arkansas? So far, how many days later than average are they?"

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

When Will the Migration Reach You?
You can use historic records to calculate the average arrival date for your home town. Use your own records that you've collected over the years--or dig into the Journey North database and use records collected by other people in your region:

My Monarch Habitat in...Challenge Question #14

"Here are our clues and pictures for the mystery habitat site," wrote our next hidden friends who challenge you to find them: "Our National Schoolyard certified habitat site is approximately 1,700 miles from the overwintering sites of the Monarchs. Our town was formed from a glacial lake and is near a major waterway. One of the nearby cities was known as Frogtown. We are in the path of the migratory route for both birds and butterflies. Although we just had snow fall a few weeks ago, robins and red-winged blackbirds have made their appearance and spring flowers are beginning to sprout! Our local history tells us that we are near the site of major naval engagements in the War of 1812 and the Underground Railroad went through this area."

Challenge Question #14
"Where do you think this monarch habitat is located?"

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

Monarch Migration Updates for Sanctuary Area Schools
This spring, 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. We send a FAX to the town of Angangueo. Our coordinator there, German Medina, distributes the news to schools in the surrounding mountains. In each classroom there's a migration map where students can track the monarch's journey all the way to Canada. Try practicing your Spanish!

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Questions:

1. Address an e-mail message to:
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #13 (or #14).
3. In the body of each message, answer ONE of the questions above.

The Next Monarch Butterfly Migration Update Will Be Posted on April 9, 2004

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