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  • Carol Gersmehl, Macalester College

    Monarch Butterfly Migration Update: March 11, 1997

    They're on their way! The first monarchs of the season have been sighted in southern Texas. We're waiting for news from Mexico, wondering how many monarchs are still there. We'll let you know as soon as we hear. Meanwhile, Click Here for a translation of Fernando Romero's last report. The table below shows where the butterflies have been spotted. Click Here for a mapping activity and recommended map.
    DateLocation (E-mail Address)
    02/28/97 Weslaco, TX (monarch@ukans.edu)*
    02/28/97 Progreso, TX (cc-spider@tamu.edu)*
    03/01/97 Rio Grande Valley, TX (cc-spider@tamu.edu)*
    03/01/97 Alamo, TX (cc-spider@tamu.edu)*
    03/01/97 McAllen, TX (cc-spider@tamu.edu)*
    03/01/97 Picachos Mountains, MEXICO (asada@infosel.net.mx)*
    03/01/97 Galveston Bay, TX (dperkins@chico.rice.edu)
    * Special thanks to Monarch Watch for contributing these sightings!

    Is Texas ready for monarchs? In our last report we asked Challenge Question #5, "What will the monarchs need when they arrive in the north? Why?"

    "Milkweed and nectar!", agreed students in New York, Kansas, Massachusetts and West Virginia. Click Here to read their full answers. As Ms McManus's students at Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School in Orleans, MA, explained:

    "The monarchs will need milkweed when they arrive in the north because that is where they have to lay their eggs. (Barbara_McManus@lighthouse.chtr.k12.ma.us)

    Try This!
    Over the next weeks, keep a close eye on wind and weather conditions in Texas and the Gulf States. Each day, check the weather forecast for a few selected cities in this region. Do you think monarchs will ride the wind as they travel north & east? Will they travel in the rain? How will weather fronts affect the dates and places monarchs are reported each week? Try to predict where monarchs will be sighted before Journey North reports arrive, then see whether your predictions were accurate.

    Maps like these can be found in many places on the Internet. These were downloaded from Purdue University's Weather Processor.

    How to Report:
    When you see FIRST monarch this spring, please report to Journey North. Simply press the Owl Button on the left and a Field Data Form will appear.

    Make a note of the wind, temperature & weather conditions at the time. Also, observe the condition of the butterfly and its activities. Please include this information in your report. Here are a few examples:

    "Saw the first two monarchs of the season inGalveston Bay, Texas, fluttering about in the apple tree blossoms. Beautiful clear, spring day with just a nice breeze off the bay. I haven't seen martins yet, but I feel sure that they must be about. The brown pelicans, our local success story with the endangered bird just exploding in population, are all over the broken-backed pier. There are hundreds of them about today. Spring is everywhere."
    Don Donald Perkins

    "A single Monarch was sighted on Sunday, March 2 in a valley in the Picachos Mountains. It had one of the rear wings almost totally missing, but could fly fairly well. It was seen nectaring by the side of a creek. The Picachos are located just south of the Mexico-Texas border.
    (Mexico) Saludos

    "I sighted a single monarch nectaring on Asclepias curassavica on March the temperature was approximately 85 degrees. It was sighted at 2:40 pm. 1. The individual was in immaculate condition. It wasn't faded or tattered. We had very windy conditions and the temperature was approximately 85 degrees. It was sighted at 2:40 pm."

    The Next Monarch Butterfly Migration Update Will be Posted on March 18, 1997.