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Monarch Butterfly Migration Update: April 8, 2005

Today's Report Includes:

Latest Migration Map and Data

Migration Moves into Three New States!
When we left off late last week, the monarchs had made a clear push into Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Now, the migration appears to be moving into Alabama, Georgia, and even Oklahoma! The northernmost sighting on today’s map suggests the leading edge of the migration is now approaching 35N. How many states and provinces have the monarchs from Mexico now reached? Here's a chart for recording predictions and results:

Where Will Monarchs Appear Next? Discussion of CQ #10
Last week we asked you to predict: "In which ten states do you think monarchs will appear next?" Students had very different ideas. Here are possible migration patterns. Which would you expect the migration to follow? Why?

Migration Patterns





Challenge Question #11
"Which of these patterns do you think best describes the migration pattern we see so far (A, B, C, or D)? What factors might be causing the monarchs to travel as they are? Explain your thinking." Explore the resource maps below as you develop your answer.

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

Resource Maps
Migration Map
as of April 8, 2005
Average Temperatures
March 2005
Plant Hardiness Zones

Land Cover

Shaded Relief 

Journey North Participants

Expecting Monarchs in Arkansas: News from the Nursery
The female monarch Dr. Edson caught last week has been busy! She is nearing the end of her life, after spending the winter in Mexico. Yet, she has managed to live 7 more days and has laid 374 eggs in that time. Wow! Even Dr. Edson is surprised. Here is his daily journal about the female whom he has now named, "Ms. Monarch":

How many eggs can you count?
Here's Ms. Monarch and some of the eggs she has been laying. Only when milkweed is in short supply will a monarch lay so many on a single plant, as shown here. Typically, they lay one or two eggs, then move on to the next plant. Why do you suppose they do this?

Discussion of Challenge Question #9
Students at Mayflower Middle School predicted how long Dr. Edson’s monarch would live and how many eggs she would lay. They clearly sense that animals with short lives tend to produce large numbers of young. They predicted:

Students said the monarch will live for, and lay:
  • 3 more days, and 1,000 more eggs
  • 4 more days, and 100 more eggs
  • 5 more days, and 100 more eggs
  • 5 more days, and 200 more eggs
  • 7 more days, and 100 more eggs
  • 30 more days, and 10 more eggs
  • 30 more days, and 20 more eggs
  • 90 more days, and 11 more eggs

Now that we all know a little more about a monarch's egg-laying potential, what news do you suppose Dr. Edson will have next week?

How is Habitat Like a Good Parent? Challenge Question #12
Imagine having 374 brothers and sisters, and no parents to take care of you! That's how life begins for monarchs. Mother monarchs lay their eggs and fly away. They rely on Mother Nature to raise their offspring. This means that a young monarch's habitat must provide everything the monarch needs to survive.

Challenge Question #12
"How is habitat like a good parent? Describe what young monarchs need and explain how their habitat provides for them."

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

Needs From the Breeding Habitat: Food, Water, Shelter, and Space
After reading today’s update, how many new needs for food, water, shelter, and space can you identify? Add to this chart as the season continues.

Answers from the Expert, Dr. Karen Oberhauser
Do monarchs ever get sick? Is there milkweed at the overwintering sites? If a chrysalis were kept in total darkness, could it develop naturally? See how monarch expert Dr. Karen Oberhauser answers these and other questions.

Monarch Migration Updates for Mexico's Sanctuary Area Schools
Each spring, as the butterflies fly over your homes, schools, and cities, we send the news back to Mexico. Thanks to Estela Romero, who lives in Angangueo and will distribute the news, students in the sanctuary area can track the monarch's journey all the way to Canada. Here is the latest update, and a chance to practice Spanish:

Last Monarchs Leaving Sanctaries: Field Report from Estela Romero
April 7, 2004
Yesterday and today, I got some news about the last Monarchs. In Chincua, there are actually just "some handfuls" of Monarchs left since last weekend. The last ones are too deep inside the forest. In el Rosario, some "bunches" are left at the "Llano de los Conejos" now, but they are now definately the last ones and actually on their way. The person informing me about this today, told me that you can still see a lot along the road. In Angangueo, the number of butterflies overflying the town has decreased considerably, so I really think that the last ones are leaving. I think the last ones will be maybe seen during the weekend and the following week. Many, many greetings to all of you.

How to Respond to Today's Monarch Challenge Question

1. Address an e-mail message to:

2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #11 (or #12)

3. In the body of your message, answer the question above.

The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on April 15, 2005

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