Monarch Butterfly Tulips
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Monarch Migration Update: September 15, 1998

Today's Report Includes:

Monarchs resting in Lincoln, NE
Patricia Rose
Migration Stalls in the U.S. Plains States

When we left off last week, the migration had just reached Nebraska. In fact, 3 reports arrived from Lincoln, NE on September 7th alone! From St. Joseph School:

"We have hundreds of monarchs in our backyard here in Lincoln, NE (40.81 N, -96.71W). They came about 9/7/98. Every year they pass through... for a week or so, then are gone."

As you'll read in today's report, a flurry of sightings arrived from Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and northern Missouri between September 8 and 13. Yet the migration doesn't seem to have moved much further south than it had by the 7th. Observers to the south are still waiting patiently. Students have been on the lookout at Broken Arrow Elementary in Shawnee, KS (39.01 N, -94.74 W):

"We have seen very few, but it has been terribly hot. Several monarchs were fluttering around Friday. Our best estimate was 3 in a 5 minute period. Saturday was warm and cloudy...again we had an average of 5 in a 1 minute period." (

How Did Last Week's Weather Affect the Migration?

Why do you think the migration was held back
during the past week in the Plains States?

Comments from Midwest Observers

09/12/98 Blair, NE
"Girl Scout Troop 196 reports lots of Monarchs in Blair, Nebraska these days. We saw about 10 Monarchs in 1 minute at one house out in the country. In town, there were fewer Monarchs, but we saw them in little groups, about 5-6 in an area. ! It has been HOT, about 85* to 95* the past week. " (

09/11/98 Mound City, MO
There were thousands of Monarchs at Squaw Creek Refuge. For a continuous half mile stretch they were hanging in trees in great numbers. Thousands were flying in the air around the area. It was an unbelievable site. I've never seen anything like it before. There was a field of milkweeds just along the edge of the trees and that the monarchs were on them very heavy.

09/11/98 North Bend, NE
Fourth graders at North Bend Elementary report: "There were 18 monarch butterflies in our school butterfly garden. This was the largest group we have noticed this fall. North Bend is located 50 miles west of Omaha and 50 miles north of Lincoln, NE."

09/10/98 Malvern , IA
"While riding the Wabash Nature Trail Between Silver City and Malvern (11 miles) I noticed at least 100 butterflies either flying or nectaring on golden rod and arthichoke. The winds were about 10 miles /hr from the south and temp in the 80." (

09/11/98 Council Bluffs, IA
"I observed 97 monarchs while driving 15 miles along the Interstate between Council Bluffs and the Glenwood turnoff. Temp in the 70 and a sw wind maybe 10 mph. The day was warm, windy, and sunny.(

09/07/98 Cedar Rapids, IA
On 09/07/98 we saw the most monarchs in one day this season. I counted 12 crossing the roadways in front of us, all successfully. I had only seen my first monarch in during the 3rd week of august after a summer of none. I saw several more over the 2 successive days and then none again until 9/10 when I saw one. (

First Significant Movements Observed Along East Coast
At last! Sightings from the East Coast suggest that monarchs there have finally begun to move:

09/12/98 Sharon, MA
"I saw no Monarchs in my butterfly garden for five days (9/7-9/11) but on Saturday had a constant influx all day. My top count was 14 Monarchs at one time. They were nectaring on Buddliea davidi. There was a preponderance of Males in the group." (

09/11/98 Merrimack, NH
"I was outside my school in Merrimack and I saw about 10-12 monarch butterflies fly over my school. It was about 75-80F* outside. There was a strong wind and the sun was out. It was a cool experience." Mastrcolia Middle School (

09/11/98 Mystic, CT
"We have seen from 17-20 butterflies at a time daily on our butterfly bushes that we planted in our courtyard. Our butterfly bushes are huge and they love them!!"
S.B. Butler (

09/10/98 Rye, NH
"Counted 36 in a half hour on goldenrod at Odiorne Point, next to the ocean on 9/10/98.
St. Mary Academy (

09/10/98 Cape May, NJ
"Our first substantial flight of the season! Sighted 47 monarchs per hour, compared to the 8/hour season total." Monarch Migration Project

09/08/98 Reston, VA
"Monarchs now showing up 3-4 at a time in natural strip nectaring on Joe Pye Weed and Goldenrod. More than I've seen total the whole summer till now in that strip." (
How Does Geography Affect Migration? Challenge Question #2
For the past 6 years, Dick Concord's Monarch Migration Project has monitored the migration on Cape May, NJ. Every day between September 1 and October for 31, he and his team take 3 hourly counts. Their data may help document just how low this year's monarch population actually is. In past years, the migration has peaked on September 17. So watch for a special report from Cape May next week. In the meantime, find Cape May on a map and consider this:

Challenge Question #2
"Why do you think Cape May, New Jersey (38.94 N, -74.96 W) is such a good place to watch migrating monarchs?"

To respond to this Challenge Question, please follow the instructions below.

More Monarchs on the Way!
The migration from northern regions continues. Watch for butterflies from at points to the south:

09/09/98 Brighton, ON
Ms. Conroy and the 4-5's at St. Peter's wrote with an eastern Ontario monarch update: Stacey Marquardt lives in Brighton near Presquile Provincial Park. Last night (Wednesday Sept.9) Stacey observed many monarchs roosting in the maple tree in her back yard.

09/14/98 Victoria, MN
"Last evening, a slow but steady stream of monarchs were gliding on north winds, approx. 100 feet above the ground. For 4 to 5 minutes they floated by at a rate of about 5-6 monarchs per minute. The temperature was 73F, skies were overcast, winds out of the north @ 10 m.p.h. Over the weekend, they were also filing southward, about 1 every 5 minutes." (jb@

Special Butterflies Heading for Mexico
Monarchs have recently joined the migration, after being raised and released by:

McKnight Elementary, Pittsburgh, PA
Mellish Home School, Lisbon, OH

Let us know when your monarchs are on their way!

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question
  1. Address an e-mail message to:
  2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question # 2
  3. In the body of the message, answer the question above.

The Next Monarch Migration Update Will be Posted on September 22, 1998.

Copyright 1998 Journey North. All Rights Reserved.

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