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Monarch Butterfly Migration Update: April 9, 2004

Today's Report Includes:

News from the Migration Trail

It's been another remarkable migration week due, unfortunately, to the apparent lack of monarchs. This week's 29 sightings make a total of 93 reported since March 1. This is only 58% of the 159 sightings reported during the same period last year.

There was apparently little northward movement in Texas, and the monarchs have still not entered Oklahoma. The migration did move eastward, however, and maybe substantially so. Two new states reported monarchs--Mississippi and...North Carolina!

"You're the Expert:" Challenge Question #15
What do you make of the three sightings reported from North Carolina? Do you think they are valid? What questions do they raise? How many questions can you list? We've placed the observers’ comments at the link below, and we've written for more information. While we wait, we'll all have to struggle with interpretation:

Challenge Question #15
“Do you think the three North Carolina monarch reports should be included on the migration map? Hold a class discussion. When you send your answer, defend how members in your class interpret the data.”

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

Still No Monarchs Spotted in Monticello, Arkansas...
“No monarchs yet,” says Dr. Jim Edson, who has been watching the milkweed outside his office window faithfully since we checked in with him last week.

Discussion of Challenge Question #13: How Late?
Are the monarchs late? Last week we challenged you to find the average arrival date based 7 years of data collected by Dr. Edson. Everyone who wrote had a different answer, so we'll share our own calculations and methods:

Average Arrival Date = March 29
Median Arrival Date = March 28
Range = 21 days, between earliest date ever seen and the latest.

  • At the time of writing (April 8), monarchs are 10 days later than average.

Important Reminder: Keep in mind that the monarch population is low this year. Low numbers could mean that the monarchs are not late, but have simply not been detected. Do you understand why? In each of the 7 years, this variable needs to be considered.

Guest Author Reads: Caterpillar Dreaming Butterfly
This week, we’re happy to share the voice and words of storyteller and author Maraleen Manos-Jones. Her life and stories have involved butterflies for over 30 years. She was among the first Americans to search for the monarch sanctuaries in Mexico.

In cultures around the world and over the ages, says Manos-Jones, butterflies have been a source of wonder and a metaphor for spiritual beliefs. They have appeared in poetry, paintings, myths and dances. Her stories celebrate the power of one of nature’s most delicate beings. Here she reads her own story, “Caterpillar Dreaming Butterfly”

School Visits by Ms. Maraleen Manos-Jones
Ms. Manos-Jones is available to give talks at schools that encompass both the science and cultural stories surrounding butterflies. For more information, visit her website:

Try This! Reading Strategies
In her story, Ms. Manos-Jones interweaves facts about butterflies, thoughts about life, and an African legend. Identify and list facts in a “Double Entry Journal.” Can you find where the story changes from non-fiction to fiction? Describe how the author takes facts from nature to build a story into a life lesson. Can you think of an example from nature that works as a metaphor for your own life? (A flower blooming, a season changing, a bird leaving a nest, for example.) In your class, write stories that blend fact, fiction and metaphor. Exchange the stories, and challenge one another to facts and fiction.

Answers from the Monarch Expert
Special thanks to Dr. Karen Oberhauser for providing her time and expertise in responding to your questions again this year!

"Thanks for all of your great questions!," says Karen. "If you'd like to learn more about monarchs, you might want to check out our two websites: Monarchs in the Classroom for basic information on monarchs, and the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project for information and our findings."

Monarch Migration Updates for Sanctuary Area Schools
We won't be sending a migration update to the Monarch sanctuary region until April 20th, because public schools across Mexico are on "Easter vacation" right now. Schools across the nation follow the same calendar. Do children in Mexico attend school more or fewer days than you do?

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 #15
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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