Monarch Butterfly Monarch Butterfly
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Monarch Butterfly Migration Update: September 9, 2005

Today’s Update Includes

Latest Migration Maps
Click for live maps and read what each observer saw!
(Then Make Your Own Map in the Classroom )

Migration Sightings
Sightings of Overnight Roosts PEAK
Migration Sightings

Highlights From the Migration Trail
The migration appears to have peaked in Minnesota and the monarchs are moving on, based on careful records Paul Viger has kept in the west central part of that state: Where he had seen 900 on a single night in late August, he only saw 159 during all of last week. "Presumably the weather has been favorable to migrate so they haven't been hanging around long," he said.

Meanwhile, people to his south were welcoming the first big push as more and more monarchs came down from the north. For the first time on Saturday, in Decorah, IA, there were “thousands of monarchs roosting on the north side of the woods." In Ames, Iowa on Sunday "a steady stream of migrants" was coming through. Many hundreds of southbound monarchs were crossing Canada’s major east/west expressway near Kingston, Ontario last week. A single monarch caused quite a stir in Glen Ellyn, IL when first graders at Forest Glen School "spotted a monarch butterfly flying outside our classroom window!" To the east, Shadyside Academy in Pittsburgh, PA said "we counted 7 monarchs feeding outside of our classroom at 11:20 a.m."

You can read all of the latest sightings on today’s migration maps. Using the lat/long provided, plot your favorite highlights on your fall monarch map.

Hurricane Season and Fall Migration
With each changing season, both the wonderful and the grim affects of nature are called to our attention. Right now, the whole world is spellbound as we witness the death and destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina. Nature’s impassionate hand has forced millions from their homes and killed an unknown number of innocent victims in the Gulf Coast region.

Every year the peak of hurricane season occurs in late August and early September and coincides with fall migration. Hurricanes are among the hazards wild animals may face as they migrate. This week: an uplifting story of survival and a glimpse at how hurricanes can affect animals as they migrate.

Tagged Monarch Tells a Surprising Story
Don Davis has been tagging monarch butterflies in Canada since 1968. He has tagged tens of thousands of butterflies, but last week he encountered a monarch with perhaps the most surprising story of them all. He found a monarch that already had a tag and, according to the number on the tag, the monarch was from Ohio! Why would a monarch butterfly come north during fall migration?
Did Hurricane Katrina carry the monarch 165 miles in the wrong direction?

Can a Monarch Cross the Atlantic Ocean?
A 165-mile trip across the Great Lakes is amazing, but could a monarch butterfly cross the Atlantic Ocean? A few days after Hurricane Floyd, in September, 1999, a monarch butterfly was spotted in England! How do you think it got there?

Image: NASA's Goddard Flight Center  

Satellite Tracks Peregrine Falcon During Hurricane Season
A peregrine falcon set out from its nest in northern Canada one fall and biologist Geoff Holroyd tracked the bird's trip by satellite. Look carefully at the migration map and find out what happened when the falcon encountered a hurricane.

A Closer Look at Wind and Monarch Migration
The drive to migrate is strong. In Iowa last week, Royce Bitzer watched how wind affects monarchs as they fly. Unless they stayed close to the ground, it carried many in the wrong direction. During a 13-18 mph southeast wind he observed "quite a few monarchs were being forced westward if they got more than 6 to 8 feet above the ground. But the ones that stayed low were making their way south-southwest to southwest."

How Strong is the Wind Today? Beaufort Scale Observations
You can learn how to read the speed of the wind by watching its effects. How strong is the wind when leaves rustle, trees toss, or dust flies? Learn about Beaufort scale:

Challenge Question #2: How Many Butterflies in a Piece of Paper?
It's hard for us to imagine the importance of wind in the daily life of a butterfly. We're so heavy that only the most powerful winds on the planet could carry us away. A butterfly, however, weighs about as much as a scrap of paper its size. Consider this:

Challenge Question #2
"If the average monarch butterfly weighs 500mg, how many could you cut from one sheet of paper? (Assume the paper measures 8.5 X 11 inches). Please describe how you solved the problem as part of your answer.

How to Report Your ObservationsReport Your Sightings
Put your monarch news on the map! Please send reports of monarchs flying, feeding, and resting. When you report your observations, include wind speed and direction.


The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on September 16, 2005.


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