Monarch Migration News: February 25, 2016
By Elizabeth Howard

A butterfly colony looks like a bountiful source of food to hungry predators. How do monarchs defend themselves?

Monarch Sanctuary Vistor
Beneath the colony Estela found the ground littered with butterflies that have not survived the winter, victims of predation, starvation, or other natural causes.

News from Mexico

Population Announcement
The monarch population size is expected be announced at a press conference on Friday, Feb. 26th at 12:30 CST.

This week monarch butterfly experts from Canada, Mexico and the US are meeting in Mexico City to coordinate conservation efforts. The three countries’ Environment Ministers will be in attendance on Friday so we expect the numbers to be released then.

Monarch Mating Begins!
Estela's weekly trip to the sanctuaries revealed an exciting change.

"By surprise, I came across the first three couples of monarchs mating in the season I have seen! One week ago, I was eagerly looking to find at least one, but all of them seemed to be ignoring my anxiety to see mating begin!"

Below the Clusters
When the monarchs arrive in November, not a single butterfly wing is on the ground. By March, the forest floor is peppered with dead butterflies. Estela walked through the sanctuary looking closely at the ground for signs of predation and other mortality. She took a sampling to give an idea how the sanctuary looks.

"In some places on the ground, below the colony itself, there could be an average of 40-50 monarchs dead per square meter all around. I looked up at the splendor of monarchs swirling overhead and their feat of survival struck me with a renewed admiration."

Monarch Population Size at Overwintering Sanctuaries in Mexico
Monarch Butterflies Begin Mating at Overwintering Sanctuaries in Mexico
Mating Begins
Monarch Butterfly Missing Abdomen, Eaten by a Predator
Below the Clusters
Monarchs and Their Predators in Mexico

Who are the monarch's predators in Mexico?
How do the butterflies defend themselves?

Journal Page and Weekly Journal

Teaching Suggestions

Monarchs and Moisture at Overwintering Sanctuaries in Mexico
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Monarch butterfly migration map Monarch butterfly migration map Map of milkweed emergence: Spring 2016
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Next Update March 3, 2016