Monarch Migration Update: April 1, 2010
Please Report
Your Sightings!

It's peak migration in Texas now, and the sudden increase in sightings is a welcome surprise. What do you think could explain the change? This week, tell us how your garden grows. Have you created habitat for monarchs at your school, home or in your community?

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week

Got milkweed?

News: Sightings Soar Across Texas—Why?

They seemed to come out of nowhere! Monarch sightings were suddenly being reported at the rate of a dozen a day. By the week's end, we had received 99 new sightings and the season's total had reached 129. A week ago, the season's total was only 30!

Now, when you compare the number of sightings reported this spring to the number in previous years, spring 2010 is nearly the same. (See graph.)

These surprising results raise questions! What could explain this sudden change in sightings?

  • Was the migration simply late this spring? Would that explain why so few people reported monarchs until this past week?
  • Is this is a detection issue? That is, did it take longer this spring for each observer to see his/her first monarch because there are fewer monarchs in the population this spring?
  • Should we expect the number of sightings reported to correlate with the size of the monarch population? After all, each observer only reports one butterfly, their first of spring, regardless of the number of monarchs they see.
  • Did the number of observers change, or their level of enthusiasm? How might these things affect our results?

What do you think? Write your thoughts about the questions raised in this week's journal page. Let's continue to think about these questions as we watch the migration this spring!

Photo: Susan Matthews

Look up!
The first spring flowers are often found on trees. Apple trees, cherry trees, and lilac bushes are among the monarch's favorites, so look up to find nectaring monarchs this spring.


Sightings suddenly soared this week!
The number of sightings reported this spring is now about the same as in the past three seasons. What factors do you think could explain why?

The Migration: Maps and Journal Page



This year's small monarch population means spring sightings are especially important. Please help us document when and where monarchs and milkweed appear this spring.

Habitat Projects: Share, Meet, and Learn

Put Your Habitat Site on the Map

Do you have a butterfly garden at your school, home, or in your community? Share your story!


(map/list of sites)
Kids in Action

Use the map to meet other people who are establishing backyard habitat for monarchs like these:

Monterrey, Nuevo Leon
Students and teachers of the American School Anahuac of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, are tending the milkweed they planted in their butterfly garden. They're improving the site this year by planting milkweed seeds they collected last season. These students are part of the Correo Real Program, Journey North's sister project in northern Mexico.

Oxford, Michigan
"Oxford, Michigan will definitely have plenty of milkweed plants to help out the monarch population!" exclaimed teacher Mary Kraniak of Oxford, Elementary. "My students exceeded my expectations and decided they 'need to get the word out' regarding monarchs. We have ordered 12,000 milkweed seeds, packaged them, and are ready to distribute them around our local community."

Apopka, Florida
"We planted a garden for the monarchs. It has pentas for them to get nectar and milkweed plants for their host plant," reports Lockhart Middle School.

Watkinsville, Georgia
"Our school grounds has a beautiful butterfly garden that is recognized as a schoolyard habitat sanctuary. Students enjoy walking through it and observing the many different butterflies that inhabit it," says Colham Ferry Elementary.

Tending a milkweed garden in Nuevo Leon

Making milkweed packets in Michigan. (Read more.)

Research Question and Links: Explore!
This Week's Research Question: Other links to explore:

Which species of milkweed are native to your region?

Research for facts:

  • Contact local garden experts to learn about the native plants in your region, and what the plants need to grow.
More Monarch Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on April 8, 2010.