Monarch Butterfly News: September 19, 2013
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Monarchs rely on the wind to get to Mexico, but it's also a migration hazard. This week explore how the wind can affect our tiny travelers. Image of the Week
Monarch Butterfly
Flap and Glide
Image: Barbara Bonham

News: Traveling with the Wind
The strongest cold front of the season came through last week, and its north winds gave the monarchs a free ride toward Mexico.

Leaving the North
As people in the north say good-bye to the butterflies, people to the south welcome the monarchs' arrival:

"As expected, the morning wind was 5-10 mph out of the north, changing to northwest, and the monarchs at our roost site have started their migration! Go well my friends. It is sad as they ALL go but it is exciting to know that the epic journey has began and our monarchs have joined the multitudes of others (we hope) on their way to Mexico." September 12, Monona, IA

Two hundred monarchs were sighted in northeast Kansas. "They all appeared on the north winds of a passing cold front which came through this area yesterday. Our extensive fields of flowering Maximilian sunflowers are holding surprisingly good numbers of feeding Monarchs!" September 13, Atchison, KS

Following Shorelines
Wind also influences the pathways monarchs travel. The Great Lakes pose a challenge. The butterflies avoid crossing open water unless wind and weather conditions are favorable. When this week's cold front reached the Great Lakes, strong migration along the shorelines was reported:

"Suddenly we began to see a steady flow—too many to count," said observers at Hawk Cliff Hawkwatch on the north shore of Lake Erie. September 12, Port Stanley, ON

"Today, weather was sunny with the wind northwest at 10-15 mph. Between 10:30 AM and 2:30 PM, I counted 224 monarchs heading south and southwest down the Lake Huron shoreline. " September 12, Atchison, KS

Looking Ahead
The wind affects when and where monarchs travel, so keep an eye on the wind map. Predict what will happen next.

Roosting Monarchs
Leaving the North
Image: Jim Langhus
Following the Shoreline
Following the Shoreline

Monarch carried to England by Hurricane Issac
Blown Off Course
Wind Map Animation
Wind Map
Monarch Population: Why the Decline?
Monarch numbers are down and people are wondering why. Examine the factors that caused the decline during the past year, and the downward trend over the past decade. Explore how you can help. Monarch Butterfly Population Graph
Spotlight: How Much Fuel do Monarchs Burn?
Biologist Dr. David Gibo measured how much energy monarchs use during different types of flight. His findings show how much energy monarchs can save by traveling with the wind. Monarch Butterfly Article:Energy Costs of Flight
Tracking the Migration: Map and Journal
What to Report to Track Fall Migration Monarch Butterfly Migration Map: Peak Migration, Fall 2012 Monarch Butterfly Journal Page:Energy Costs of Flight
What to Report
Next Update September 26, 2013