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Monarch Butterfly Migration Update: April 29, 2005

Today's Report Includes:

News From Along the Migration Trail
We have only 13 monarchs to report this week! When the first spring generation arrives in force, a surge in sightings will appear. We added this week's migration map to the slideshow. Do you think you see the new generation joining the population yet?

Monarchs have now been reported from 15 states, including two new ones this week. Can you find them?

Monarch Migration
As of April 29, 2005

Early Illinois Sighting Raises Questions: You're the Scientist
Among this week's sightings was a big surprise. A monarch was reported in Illinois on April 19, from latitude 42 North!

"I totally understand anyone questioning my report," wrote the woman who saw it. Then she added, "I'm 100% positive it was a monarch. (If it helps any, I'm a Master Gardener and have many Monarchs in my extensive gardens.)"

What do you think? How many miles from 42N have other monarchs been seen this spring? Have monarchs ever been spotted so far north so early?

Dig through Journey North's historic maps and data and see what you can find. Should the Illinois sighting be included on this spring's migration map? Here's a lesson to help you decide whether to accept or reject this observation:

An Iowa 3rd grader reported an early monarch one year.

She sent us this photo as proof!

Can you find the date and latitude of her sighting? (Explore the data archives.)

Poor Ms. Monarch: Answer to Challenge Question #9
We're sorry to say, Dr. Edson sent the sad answer to Challenge Question #9 this week: Ms. Monarch died on April 24. "She spent 25 days in the lab, laying 504 eggs and sipping nectar. A long life, considering she probably was born sometime last August."

How Long Do Monarchs Live?
Monarchs live for only 2-6 weeks during the breeding season. But those that overwinter in Mexico live much longer, as Ms. Monarch's story shows. How long? Think back to when you came to school last fall. You may have raised your own monarchs and sent them on their way to Mexico. If your monarchs are still alive, how old would they be now? Try this lessons to estimate the lifespan of a monarch of the overwintering generation:

Mystery Monarch Adaptation: Take Another Look
After careful observation last week, kids sent many good guesses about the identity of this mystery monarch-body part. Let's look a little less closely this week. Here is the same structure, magnified only 30 times:
What is this?
  • How is this picture different?
  • What new information does it give you?
Magnified 180 times Magnified 30 times

Courtesty of Dr. Lincoln Brower, Sweet Briar College

If you have not sent us your answer yet, please answer:

Challenge Question #14
"What part of a monarch butterfly do you think the pictures show? With your answer, explain how this body part helps the monarch survive."

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

A Behavioral Adaptation: What is the Caterpillar Doing...and Why?
Watch the caterpillar in this short video clip very carefully. What’s going on? Do you notice anything surprising? Describe what you see in detail. The process of writing a good verbal description helps you look closely. Use the vocabulary word “petiole” in your description. (The petiole is the stalk of a leaf. It connects the leaf to the stem of the plant.)

The petiole is the stalk of a leaf.

Now watch the clip again. This caterpillar behavior, called “leaf notching,” is an example of a behavioral adaptation. (An "adaptation" is a physical or behavioral feature that evolved in response to an organism's environment, due to pressures for survival.) When thinking about adaptations, try to find the WHY behind WHAT you see. In this case, why would a caterpillar cut the petiole of the very leaf it's standing on? The leaf looks like a loose tooth, ready to break from the plant!

Challenge Question #15
"Why do you think the monarch caterpillar cuts the petiole of a milkweed leaf before it eats the leaf?" (A "petiole" is the stalk of a leaf.)

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

that Help Young Monarchs Survive

Continue to add to this chart as you discover monarch adaptations this season.

Challenge Question #13: How Much Would YOU Weigh?
In just two weeks, monarchs increase 2000 times in size. We asked, "How much would you weigh if your weight increased 2,000 times?" Students in Tennessee, Arkansas, and New Jersey imagined this happening to them. Based on their calculations, just two weeks from now, these perfectly normal children would weigh as much as: A diesel locomotive; a pure-steel rv truck; the Peacekeeper spaceship by NASA; or a Blue Whale. One student said she would weigh as much as an elephant, a hippo, and a dog put together!

Year-End Evaluation: Please Share Your Thoughts!
Please take a few minutes to share your suggestions and comments in our Year-End Evaluation. The information readers provide is critical for planning new initiatives and for improving Journey North. We'd appreciate your help. THANK YOU!

Journey North
Year End Evaluation
Please share your thoughts

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 #14 (or #15)

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

The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on May 6, 2005

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