Dozens of monarchs seen nectaring on Meadow Blazingstar (Liatris ligulistylis) adjacent to Hwy 19 and railroad tracks, 2 miles east of Winthrop, Minnesota, Aug. 28, 2013. 44.542860 -94.314613
I toured the GMO corn and soybean monocultures of south-central and southwestern Minnesota Aug. 27-29 as that is the region and time window when fall migrant monarchs are typically the most numerous.
I found numbers of migrants were very low by historical Minnesota standards, but common by western USA standards. The alfalfa fields had only widely scattered individuals and no roosts were found in the evening adjacent to those fields as would be typical in an average or high monarch population year.
Meadow Blazingstar (Liatris ligulistylis) - was blooming strongly this year and many monarchs - sometimes dozens - were seen in patches of those plants that were typically located adjacent to railroad tracks. In a 4 minute video I shot (above) of one such large patch that had dozens of monarchs.
Overall, it appears the fall migrant population in southern Minnesota is moderately lower than last August. And like last August, it was difficult to find caterpillars (I didn't see any). Thus at this point it appears the overwintering population in Mexico could possibly lower than last winter. However, the summer monarch breeding population in the huge region between Iowa and Texas and westward to the Rocky Mountains may to be higher (based on mid-late summer sighting reports to Journey North) this year and could potentially boost the numbers of fall migrants entering Texas and Mexico to levels near or above those seen last year. We should know by early October based on the number and size of the "fall roost" reports to Journey North.
Paul Cherubini El Dorado, Calif.
Observed by: Paul
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