Monarch Migration Update: May 6, 2010
Please Report
Your Sightings!

What a week! The new generation of monarchs appeared in full force and the migration expanded all the way into Canada. What caused the change? Look at last week's weather conditions in a process called "weather backtracking." Also this week, think about a monarch butterfly's senses and how they perceive the world.

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week

How do monarchs sense the world?

News: Whooooooosh! Winds Blow Monarchs into Canada

Several days of strong south winds resulted in surprises beyond our predictions. Based on sightings people reported, the leading edge of the migration advanced some 700 miles and monarchs were sighted all the way into Canada.

"This is two or three weeks earlier than I have seen Monarchs in other years, and is well before the milkweeds have emerged," reported Ron Stagar who saw the northernmost monarch nectaring on a dandelion at latitude 45N.

Seven new states suddenly reported monarchs—Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania—along with the first Canadian province, Ontario. The migration had not entered a single new state in over two weeks, so this movement was truly astonishing.

We could scarcely believe the sightings were accurate; they appeared on the map so suddenly and so far to the north and east. But observers were convincing. Some even provided evidence like this teacher in Avon, Indiana. She and her 2nd grade students were the first to see and report monarchs from their state:

"A female arrived in our milkweed bed at 12 noon. She laid several eggs—I've found 8 so far. She was a fresh, colorful butterfly! A 2nd grade class was with me at the time. I'm not sure who was more excited!!," reported Jennifer Davies.

Where did the monarchs come from?
Observers in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas were among the many people who suddenly saw fresh new butterflies during the last week. The first spring generation is here! The sudden abundance of monarchs delighted those who saw them:

"We had four monarch beauties flying low around the yard today!" Mary Kennedy reported from Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas.

"There may be another wave of Monarchs about to head north and northeast," said Harlen Aschen, who snapped a photo of a mint-condition monarch in his backyard on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Thank You, Citizen Scientists!
This week's migration maps show the value of collecting migration data in 'real time.' Like a snapshot, each map captures a moment in time. We can compare the maps from one moment to the next and see how the monarchs move. Thank you for sharing your observations and making this possible!

What a week!
The leading edge of the migration advanced some 700 miles—and monarchs were sighted all the way into Canada.


Weather Backtracking
Look at these maps to see the wind conditions during the past week.


Photo: Harlen Aschen

The first spring generation appears!
This fresh monarch began its life as a butterfly on the Texas Gulf Coast. Where do you suppose she will travel in her lifetime?

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.

Explore: How Do Monarchs Find Milkweed?

Slideshow and Teaching Suggestions
Milkweed is the only food monarch young will eat, so finding it is of the utmost importance. What senses do monarchs have, and how do they use them to find milkweed?

Using the facts and photos in this slideshow, explore the combination of visual and chemical cues monarchs need to detect milkweed. Demonstrate effective note-taking and comprehension strategies with the interest-engaging and skill-building activities in this guide.

Year-end Evaluation: Please Share Your Thoughts

Please take a few minutes to complete our Year-end Evaluation. With your help, we can we document Journey North's reach, impact and value. We need comments like yours to keep the program going and growing.

More Monarch Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on May 13, 2010.