Traveling Two Flyways
September 29, 2016 by Elizabeth Howard

Citizen science has revealed the monarch's migration flyways, and this year's butterflies are traveling along the predicted pathways.

Monarch Butterflies nectaring in school garden in Omaha, Nebraska

"Soooo many! Counting was a challenge but we think between 50-70. The record at our school garden!"
reported Kate Rezac from St. Margaret Mary School in Omaha, NE on September 22nd.


Central Flyway
Monarchs surged southward this week across the Central Great Plains as a cold front dropped down from the north and finally ended the unseasonably hot weather — with associated south winds — that have been holding the butterflies back. A huge wave moved over a swath of northwestern Missouri, and eastern Nebraska and Kansas.

September 25: Nebraska
"There was a steady stream flying south on a strong north wind." Bellevue, NE

September 26: Missouri
"Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of monarchs were observed." Mound City, MO

September 27: Kansas
"We counted 107 monarchs flying by our school today between about 11:00 - 1:00. Most were flying low at first but, as the day warmed and the breeze picked up, they began riding thermals higher up." Garnett, KS

Eastern Flyway
Peak flights were witnessed along the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains over the weekend, making this the first strong pulse in the Eastern Flyway.

September 27: North Carolina
"We pulled over at Caney Fork Overlook just north of the highest peak on the Blue Ridge Parkway and couldn't believe our eyes. It was around 5pm and there were hundreds of monarchs feeding on the asters."

Monarchs follow the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains. They can use "ridge lift" to gain altitude and then glide effortlessly along the ridges. These mountains create one of the best migration hotspots in the East.

Traveling Two Flyways
Over the years, sightings contributed by citizen scientists have revealed that the monarchs follow two distinct flyways as they travel to Mexico, the Central and Eastern Flyway. Notice that this year's peak migration map is now showing the predicted pattern.

Looking Ahead
Watch how the butterflies funnel toward Texas before they enter Mexico. Pay attention to longitude line 100° West; the overwintering sites are directly south.

Flyway Highlights
Monarch Butterfly Migration in Central Flyway, Kansas
Central Flyway
Ann Tanner

Monarch Butterfly Migration in Eastern Flyway, North Carolina
Eastern Flyway
Theresa Berezik
Monarch Butterfly Migration on Ridges of the Appalachian Mountains
Following the Ridges
Google Earth
News from the Classroom
Share your monarch news #JNshare
Report Your Sightings
What to Report to Track Fall Migration Monarch Butterfly: Adult Sighted Monarch Butterfly: Egg or Larva Sighted
What to Report Adult Butterflies
map | list | animation
Eggs and Larvae
map | list
Monarch Butterfly Migration Map: Fall Roosts, Fall 2016 Monarch Butterfly Migration Map: Peak Migration Fall 2016 How Far do Monarchs Migrate to Mexico
Fall Roosts
map | list | archives | animation
Peak Migration
map | list | animation
Next Update October 6, 2016