On the Move
September 15, 2016 by Elizabeth Howard

People are counting monarchs that are roosting by the hundreds, feeding by the dozens, and flying overhead at rates up to 37 per hour. How many are you counting?

Monarch Butterflies nectaring in an Iowa prairie

"I lost count at 118!" wrote Pam Martin on September 12th from Claflin, Kansas. "I think we had a fallout from a front that went through late yesterday."

In Full Swing
The migration picked up its pace this week.

"They were everywhere!
"I lost count!
"Peak migration is here!"

The leading edge advanced all the way to Kansas where that state's first roost was reported. The Great Lakes shorelines in Ontario and Michigan were a migration highway, according to observers there.

Moving Toward Mexico
Look at the peak migration map. It clearly shows the monarchs are moving toward Mexico. On the ground, observers noted the butterflies' south-bound flight.

"Every 1-3 minutes an adult would somewhat leisurely pass along the higher points of the lookout with Lake Michigan in the background. They were all flying parallel to the lake, heading south!"

How to Count Monarchs
When you watch migrating monarchs, find ways to quantify (count or measure) what you're seeing. Please tell us how many monarchs you see and how many minutes or hours you're watching. Also, compare today's observation to what you saw yesterday, last week, or last year.

You can compare the pace of migration at Hawk Cliff in Port Stanley, Ontario because the observers counted monarchs and specified the length of their observation period.

  • Sunday: 86 monarchs in 6 hours.
  • Monday: 222 monarchs in 6 hours.
  • Tuesday: 259 monarchs in 7 hours.

Which day was migration the strongest?

Counting Monarchs
Monarchs Migrating over Lake Michigan
Sky Count
Herb Lambrechts

Monarch Butterflies roosting during migration in Nebraska
Roost Count
Calla Olson
Garden Count


News from the Classroom
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Fall Roosts
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Peak Migration
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Next Update September 22, 2016