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Monarch Butterfly Migration Update: May 13, 2005

Today's Report Includes:

Monarch Migration
As of May 13, 2005

News From the Migration Trail
The big news this week is how little migration news we have! Only FOUR new sightings occurred during the past week, and they are our only sightings for May. This May’s migration is the slowest we’ve ever recorded. Single sightings from Indiana and New Jersey do add two new states to your list, and may give the appearance of progress on the map.

Latest Migration Data


The Monarch Migration Continues!
Other Journey North migrations have come to an end, but we'll continue to track the monarchs until they have expanded across their entire breeding range. Weekly updates with migration maps and data will be provided every Friday until the end of June.

We Need Your Help: Please Report Your Sightings
It's an important year to document the migration, so please don't go away. Even if monarchs have already been reported from your state or province, we want to know when YOU see YOUR first monarch.
  • Remember: We can't track the migration without your help!

How Does This Year's Migration Compare?
Here are migration maps from the previous four years. Notice how the pattern and extent of this spring's migration compares to those in previous years. In which year had the migration expanded the farthest by mid-May? In which year was the migration most similar to this year’s migration? Look back to this winter's low population estimate from Mexico, and the factors scientists said affect monarch survival. (See our February 25, 2005 update.) List some conditions that could help monarch numbers increase this spring and summer.

2001 2002 2003 2004

Adaptations for Survival: How Did the Monarch Escape from the Lizard?
Survival is a day by day, moment by moment effort, as this amazing picture and story show. One afternoon in April, Mary Ramsower of Spring, Texas saw a beautiful monarch in her backyard garden and wanted to take its picture.

"I noticed a lizard and assumed it wouldn't go after the butterfly, being that they aren't palatable. Well, I snapped the photo and realized I had missed the monarch. He'd taken off just before the camera snapped. Then I wondered why. I put the picture on the computer and got my answer..."

How did the monarch escape with his life, and avoid becoming lunch for the lizard? What adaptations must a monarch have to avoid predators like lizards, for example?

First, take time to look closely:

  • What do you know about monarch adaptations when you look at the picture?
  • What do you assume?
  • Consider the lizard too. What adaptations does a lizard have to help it survive? What do the lizard's adaptations mean to the monarch?

Next, do some research:

  • What protection do monarch butterflies have against predators?
  • Our senses give us immediate information about our environment. What information did the monarch need to detect the lizard before it was too late? What senses do you think the monarch used?You can learn about monarch's senses on the Monarch Watch website:
*Adaptation: An "adaptation" is a physical or behavioral feature an organism has that evolved in response to pressures for survival. How a species looks, moves, obtains food, reproduces, and responds to danger are examples of adaptations.
Adaptations That Help Monarchs Survive
After your observations and research, list the monarch adaptations you discovered today on this chart. Next, take time to reflect upon all that you've learned about adult monarch butterflies this year. What adaptations--physical and behavioral--can you add to this chart?

Math Challenge for Older Students: How Quickly Did the Monarch Flee?
When flying to escape a predator, a monarch can flap its wings about 12 times per second. Here is a photo gallery of frames from a slow motion video. The 39 frames show 1/2 second of "powered" (flapping) flight. The butterfly is at rest in the first frame. Which frame best matches the position of the monarch that's escaping from the lizard? Estimate how many seconds after take-off that photo was taken.
Powered Flight in Slow Motion
Link to Photo Gallery

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

The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on May 20, 2005

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