Late, Great Migration

October 19, 2017 by Elizabeth Howard

As peak migration entered Texas, observers in the north continued to report strong migration. Where leaves are falling, butterflies are still flying!

This spectacular roost of 4,500 monarchs on Point Pelee in Lake Erie is the largest of the season. It’s mid-October, fall migration is usually ending there by now. Photo and observations by Darlene Burgess.

Peak Spans 1,500 Miles

Observers across the north continue to report peak migration. Unusually warm fall temperatures are resulting in the latest migration we’ve ever recorded. Peak migration reports spanned from Ontario to Texas, a distance of nearly 1,500 miles. We typically receive late sightings of single butterflies, but this year the late observations are among the largest of the season. Never have sightings so large and so late been reported from Canada - and cold temperatures are coming.

Ontario: “The wind is blowing from the west, and it’s overcast and cold. Many monarchs are resting on the ground or in the grass and some are sipping nectar. Very few nectar sources are left but some that we planted this year are,” wrote Thomas Hossie from Newcastle who reported 45 monarchs on the 14th.

Peak Hits Texas

The first big wave of arrival in Texas did not go unnoticed this week:

“There are hundreds and hundreds of monarchs migrating over Guadalupe River State Park right this minute. They are feeding on cowpen daisy and it is just unreal! In monarch heaven!!!!!” exclaimed Craig Hensley from Spring Branch on the 12th.

Crossing into Mexico

The migration’s leading edge is in northern Mexico. The southernmost roost was reported from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon on the 16th. These butterflies are 400 miles from the overwintering sites.

Watching and Waiting in Angangueo

Meet the children in Mexico who are eagerly preparing to announce the monarchs’ arrival.

“Is it really true that they are coming from so far away - and that we are such a special region in the world they choose to spend the winter with us?” the children asked Estela Romero, Journey North’s reporter from the region.

“We will keep alert to give you the great news,” promised Estela.


Watching and Waiting in Angangueo