Monarch Butterfly Update: March 31, 2011
Please Report
Your Sightings!

Cold temperatures held the monarchs back last week, and our migration map is showing some surprises. Did the observer in North Carolina see a monarch? Review the evidence and vote! Visit an Angangueo school with a U.S. teacher, and think about preparing for Earth Day. Have you created habitat for monarchs? If so, tell us how your garden grows!

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week

Monarch larvae on milkweed

Got Milkweed?

News: Cold Temperatures, Slow Week

Thousands Remain!
Estela Romero took her weekly trip to El Rosario Sanctuary and was astonished to see how many monarchs remain. "I found thousands of monarchs who seem to be in no hurry to leave!" she reports.

Migration Highlights
It was a cold, slow week! Only 20 monarchs were reported compared to 51 the week before. The leading edge of the migration did not advance beyond last week's northernmost point in Lawton, Oklahoma (at latitude 34.5 North), where south winds had carried them the week before.

Look at the contrast these temperature maps show! Think about how cold temperatures affect monarchs. Where was it too cold to fly last week? How about the week before? Watch the animated migration map and see how clearly the northward flow stopped.

Unexpected Findings in the Southeast
The migration map is showing some surprises in the southeastern United States. The sightings raise questions about the spring dispersal of monarchs from the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Read the evidence and see what you think!

Where Did the Alabama Monarchs Come From?
An experienced observer reported monarchs as far north as Huntsville, Alabama on March 22nd. She also saw two monarchs while driving to Huntsville from the Florida coast, where monarchs were seen regularly this winter. Where did the Huntsville, Alabama monarch come from? It appears too far from the mass of migrants coming up from Mexico. If the monarch had flown from the Florida coast it would have traveled 275 miles. Last fall's migration was spectacular in numbers. Did a large number of monarchs overwinter along the Gulf coast, and are they dispersing now? Nobody knows! Scientists have many questions about how monarchs disperse in the spring.

Was the North Carolina Sighting a Monarch? Let's Vote!
A science teacher reported a monarch butterfly in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 21st. This sighting is the first and only report from North Carolina. It's over 300 miles from the Alabama sighting, and is hundreds of miles ahead of the mass migration moving up from Mexico. The nearest sighting is 180 miles away on the South Carolina coast. Do you think the observer saw a monarch butterfly?

Thousands of monarchs still remain at El Rosario Sanctuary on March 29, 2011
Thousands Remain!
Temperatures were much colder this week than last week.
Where Too Cold to Fly?
Location of early sighting in North Carolina
Let's Vote!
Conservation: Getting Ready for Earth Day?
American Teacher Visits Angangueo School

What are you doing as Earth Day approaches? An American teacher visited a school in Angangueo last week as students were preparing an environmental presentation.

"The student's voices were buzzing with excitement. They were preparing an environment presentation to help make improvements in Angangueo...I couldn't help but notice the migrating Monarch Butterflies flying overhead and even a few dropping down into the courtyard during the presentation! As Earth Day is approaching I wondered what the students are doing in the United States and Canada to improve their communities."

Students discuss conservation ideas

Fifth and sixth graders presented ideas to improve the ecology of their community.

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!

Report your site to the habitat map by selecting "Habitat Project"

(map/list of sites)
The Migration: Maps and Journal Page
Pre-migration map: Winter monarch butterfly sightings (January or February) Map of milkweed emergence: Spring 2011 Journal Page
Dealing with Unexpected Findings

Let's find out when and where monarchs and milkweed appear this spring.

The next Monarch Migration Update will be posted on April 7, 2011.