Monarch Migration Update: August 23, 2012
Please Report
Your Sightings!
Report Your Sightings
They're off! Monarchs are on their way to Mexico and excitement is in the air. What makes monarchs born at this time of year so special? We begin with a puzzle about the monarch's annual cycle.

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week
Monarch Butterflies Nectaring
Fall Monarchs Are Special
Image: Carole Bradshaw

News: Fall Migration is Underway!
First Signs in North
Observers in Canada reported directional flight for the first time this week, a clear sign of migration:

"Monarchs flying in a southwest direction at the Kenesserie Tallgrass Prairie. Monarchs have been very common at this prairie site all summer, but now they are flying in the same direction rather stopping to browse for milkweed or nectar."
8/19/12 Highgate, Ontario

Watching the Map
We're expecting the first report of roosting monarchs any moment. The shift to roosting behavior is another sign of fall migration, and is typically first reported from northern latitudes by now.

"So far it's getting off to a slow start. I've seen a few single butterflies choosing a tree at sun down but not large numbers yet."
8/21/12 Chatham, Ontario

"No roosts yet. Our monarch numbers have been quite low this season, so when we start seeing larger numbers we will know those Canadian monarchs are on their way."
8/20/12 New London, MN

Asking Questions
Monarchs typically cycle through four generations during the breeding season. The final generation migrates to Mexico.

  • How did this summer's extreme heat and drought affect monarch reproduction?
  • How will the drought in the Midwest affect the migration?

We'll follow these questions as we travel across the continent with the monarchs this fall. Your observations help to tell the story.

Image: Teri Weber
Long Journey Begins

Seeing Monarchs?
When you see a monarch, we want to know about it.
Report Weekly!
Monarch Butterfly Annual Cycle Graphic Annual Cycle

Reporting from Missouri
Reporting from Missouri
Slideshow and Puzzle: Monarchs Annual Cycle
Can you sequence of events in the monarch's annual cycle?

Puzzle Page: The Monarch Butterfly's Annual Cycle

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The Migration: Maps and Journal Page
Please watch for monarchs that are flying in directional flight, resting at overnight roosts, or refueling at flowers in fields, gardens, or roadsides. Also report monarch eggs or larvae, signs that monarchs are reproducing.
Monarch Butterfly Migration Map: All Sightings, Fall 2012 Monarch Butterfly Migration Map: Fall Roosts, Fall 2012 Annual Cycle Calendar
All Sightings
(map | animation | sightings)
Fall Roosts
(map | animation | sightings)
The next monarch migration update will be posted on August 30, 2012.