Early llinois Sighting Raises Questions
Writing Prompts for Your Science Journal
Teacher Tip
See: You’re the Scientist
Consider the Observer's Comments

April 19, 2005 Stockton, Illinois (42 N)
"First monarch seen today, fluttering in my garden, looking for the milkweed, I suppose, but it's not up yet. I totally understand anyone questioning my report. I'm 100% positive it was a monarch. (If it helps any, I'm a Master Gardener and have many Monarchs in my extensive gardens.) I stood there with my mouth hanging open when I saw it. I watched as it flittered around looking for a place for eggs I suppose. My milkweed isn't even up yet. It has been unusually warm for April with many days in the 70's. I worried where it would lay its eggs and if there was any chance for them to grow. And now we are getting cold weather. I was going to keep my eyes open for it in the garden and hope to rescue it from the cold. If you have any questions feel free to send me a note. If I get a chance I'll snap a picture of it too."

Journal Questions:

  • Which comments lead you to believe that this is an accuate sighting? (Highlight in yellow, and explain why.)
  • What information makes you question this report? (Underline and explain why.)
Consider This Year's Migration
View this season's interactive map and watch the slide show:

View this season's interactive map and watch the slide show:

  • How many miles away has the nearest monarch been seen this spring?
  • At what latitude is this season's nearest sighting?
  • Do you see anything when viewing the maps that makes you question the sighting?
  • What do you see that supports the
Consider Evidence from Past Years' Migrations

Have monarchs ever been spotted so far north this early in the year? Dig through Journey North’s historic maps and data and see what you can find. For example, a 3rd grader in Iowa reported a very early butterfly from her state one year sent this photo for proof! Can you find the date and latitude of her sighting?

A 3rd grade student sent this proof of an early monarch in Iowa!

Digging Into Data

  • Does Journey North's historic data support the idea of a monarch at 42 N on April 19th? Why or why not?
  • Interested students can use the data archives to calculate average arrival dates of "first monarchs" at latitude 42 N and/or in Illinois.
So, What Do YOU Think?
  • Should the Illinois sighting be included on this spring's migration map? Explain your conclusion.
  • What evidence was most important in making your decision?