All Eyes on Texas - and Mexico

October 25, 2017 by Elizabeth Howard

Will monarchs reach Mexico's overwintering sites in time for Day of the Dead according to tradition? With 6 days to go, the migration's leading edge is 400 miles away.

In the sky over Nuevo Leon in northern Mexico, monarchs were flying southeast at a rate of 6 every 10 minutes on October 19th according to Elsa Hernandez of Villas del Poniente.

Peak for Texas?

The season’s largest sightings in Texas have been reported during the past two weeks:

“I reported hundreds and hundreds of monarchs migrating over Guadalupe River State Park on October 12 and it continued through the 18th. It seemed to be a wide swath from Kerrville through Canyon Lake at least. This picture is a sample of monarchs we were catching for tagging. For nearly three hours we had 25-30 at a time,” wrote Craig Henlsey.

“Hundreds of monarchs in the grass, in the trees, exciting! I first saw them on the ground and thought they were leaves- then they started flying up as I walked,” reported Pat Coble on October 20th from Rockwall.

Was this the peak for the year? Considering that all Mexico-bound butterflies must funnel through Texas, the number of monarchs reported so far has been surprisingly low.

More on the Way?

Large numbers of monarchs are still being reported as far north as Canada and as far east as the Atlantic. Watch the migration map. Will these butterflies make it to Texas and beyond? Or will they be trapped in the north by the cold?

In Mexico

Sightings from the migration pathway in northern Mexico have been few and far between compared to past years. The largest roosts have been in the hundreds, not thousands. Our southernmost report, in Nuevo Leon, is still 400 miles from the overwintering sites.

Then, we received this news on Wednesday from Rocio Treviño of Correo Real:

“Ahorita en este momento me están reportando por miles en Castaños y Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila. También estoy recibiendo llamadas y correos de Santa Catarina y Monterrey, Nuevo Leon de que las están viendo por miles llegar a pernoctar.”

“Right now, people are reporting to me about thousands Castaños and Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila. I am also receiving calls and emails from Santa Catarina and Monterrey, Nuevo Leon that they are being seen by thousands coming down for the night.”

Will They Make It?

Just think….Millions of monarchs are flying across the continent toward a tiny spot on the planet. They’re traveling to a place they’ve never been. Look at them moving down the map toward their destination. Will they arrive in time for the Day of the Dead? Estela and her students are watching and waiting.

Will monarchs arrive by the Day of the Dead?