Monarch Migration Update: October 4, 2012
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"We're ready to host the monarchs!" Estela Romero reports from Mexico. Butterflies are headed her way, from Nova Scotia to Nuevo Leon. This week, try a research question: How high do monarchs fly—and how high can we see them?

This Week's Update Includes:


Image of the Week
Estela Romero

Hello from Mexico!

News: Unusual Pattern Continues
Fall 2012's unsual pattern continued this week, with large numbers in the east and small numbers in the drought-stricken Midwest. Here are this week's highlights:

Concentrated on Atlantic Coast
For the 4th week, peak migration continued its move down the Atlantic coast like a wave. Once again, Cape May, New Jersey was the hotspot. Paige Cunningham sent video clips of what she calls "our little Mexico."

"Many of the 10,000 roosting monarchs from last night warmed up in the sun this morning, some flying across the Bay, others heading into the gardens at the Point to feed, some flying in the dunes feeding on the goldenrod, and some staying in small roosts on the pines and ivy. Another amazing day with these magical critters flitting everywhere you looked!"

Riding Appalachian Ridges
For the 2nd week, people have been reporting hundreds of monarchs migrating through the mountains to the peak migration map.

In North Carolina, students at Boiling Springs Elementary counted 20 monarchs in 30 minutes. "What a treat! We were at our playground and spotted them flying over."

At the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains came this report on Wednesday from northwest Georgia:

"We were leaving our plant (Shaw Plant 15) for lunch around noon and observed thousands of monarchs flying west over and around the Plant. We watched for about 5 minutes and they kept coming and coming. When we returned from lunch about 70 minutes later they were mostly gone. It was the first time in my life that I have observed a monarch migration and it was thrilling and amazing!"

First for Texas!
After several days of rain, the first three roosts were simultaneously reported on Sunday in northern Texas. All three roosts were small, with fewer than 50 monarchs.

"Monarch started arriving Sunday afternoon, all gathering on the mulberry tree. After spending the night, they were all off again by 11:00 a.m. this morning (10/1/12). There were about 25-30 Monarchs, apparently needing a good rest." Saginaw, Texas

Migration Pathway Revealed?
Let's see if we can detect when the eastern monarchs arrive in Texas. We don't know the exact pathway monarchs from the east travel to Mexico. This may be the year the route is revealed! See animated map.


Monarchs nectaring on seaside goldenrod, Cape May Point, NJ
Image: Paige Cunningham

Monarch Butterflies Settling at Sunset
Settling Down
Image: Paige Cunningham
Monarch Butterflies Settling at Sunset
Warming Up
Image: Paige Cunningham
First for Texas
Image: Nancy Johnson

Migration Pathway Revealed?
Migration Pathway?

Research Questions: How high do monarchs fly?
Monarch migration can be invisible to us when we watch from the ground. There is a large gap overhead where monarchs can travel and we can't see them.

Essential Questions
How high do monarchs fly and how high can we see them?
How high can we see them?
The Migration: Maps and Journal Page
Watch for monarchs that are flying in directional flight, resting at overnight roosts, or refueling at flowers in fields, gardens, or roadsides.
Seeing Monarchs?
Report Weekly!
When you see a monarch, we want to know about it.
Monarch Butterfly Migration Map: All Sightings, Fall 2012 Monarch Butterfly Migration Map: Peak Migration, Fall 2012

Journal Page

All Sightings
(map | animation | sightings)
Peak Migration
(map | animation | sightings)
The next migration update will be posted on October 11, 2012.