Monarch Migration News: May 12, 2016
By Elizabeth Howard

Monarch enemies take a big bite of a monarch's potential offspring, so how does a population grow?

Monarch Butterfly Egg Taken by Ant

"Observed an Argentine ant remove a monarch egg off of a narrow-leaved milkweed stem and carry it down the plant. I do not know if the egg was hatched or not." — Katy Kughen  Vista, California

News: Waiting for the Surge
The lull between generations continues. With only 18 sightings reported during the past week, we're still waiting for the 1st generation to come out in full force. The first half of May is always the slowest time of year, and this year is no exception.

Sightings Down
Overall this spring, the number of sightings reported to Journey North has been lower than in all of the past 5 years, except 2013.

The low level of spring sightings — coupled with photographic evidence of returning monarchs in unusually poor condition — suggest that the March storm in Mexico caused high levels of mortality and morbidity. Were it not for the storm, the number of sightings this spring should be higher — particularly compared to the past 2 years — given the relatively large size of this winter's pre-storm population.

Looking Ahead
Dr. Chip Taylor summarized his predictions for population recovery in a recent post to Monarch Watch:

"The conditions in Texas for reproduction by these returning monarchs are key. Successful reproduction in the South Region depends on the temperatures in March-April, the number and distribution of milkweeds and nectar sources, the abundance of fire ants, and other factors. These conditions vary from year to year but have a significant impact on the number of first generation monarchs that move north from this area in May and early June. The size of this first generation moving north will largely determine the degree to which the population will be able to recover from the losses incurred during the late-winter storm."

Monarch Butterfly Migration Sightings
Sightings Down
Monarch butterfly egg

Reproductive Potential

How Does a Population Grow?
Teaching Suggestions
Report Your Sightings
Monarch butterfly migration map Map of milkweed emergence: Spring 2016 Monarch butterfly migration map
First Adult
report | map | list
report | map | list
Monarch butterfly migration map Monarch butterfly migration map

After first sightings, continue to report all monarchs — adults, eggs, and larvae.

Monarch butterfly migration map

First Egg
report | map | list
First Larva
report | map | list

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Next Update May 19, 2016