Clusters of Monarchs

November 11, 2020 by Team Journey North

Estela Romero and Ellen Sharp provide updates from monarch sanctuaries in Mexico. Monarchs remain on the move in the US and as far north as Ontario. Out west, Gail Morris reports on the home stretch of migration.

Butterflies clustered on a tree trunk in El Llano, Cerro Pelon Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, Mexico. The older growth trees on this side of the mountain provide more protection to the colony. Photo: Pato Moreno

Eastern Monarch Population

Letter From Estela Romero: Staff Training In Preparation For Opening

With her youth observers Emilio and Esteban, Estela Romero reports on preparations for opening Sierra Chincua and El Rosario sanctuaries. She writes, “Training will last for a whole week in order to prepare all personnel to fulfill their roles while ensuring visitor safety in the monarch sanctuaries. Participants received training in wearing masks, practicing social distancing, following hygiene measures, and strengthening medical first aid assistance.”

Read more of Estela Romero’s Fourth Report of the Season: Staff Training In Preparation For Opening

Letter From Ellen Sharp: Interesting Behavior at Cerro Pelon

At Cerro Pelon Sanctuary, Ellen Sharp reports on massive arrivals of monarchs and some interesting butterfly behavior. She writes, “Butterfly behavior is confounding us this season. As any local can tell you, the monarch colony on Cerro Pelon alternates sides of the mountain every year … But it’s starting to look like the butterflies may have other plans. In fact, they may have many plans: as if as of this writing, they’ve formed three distinct colonies.”

Read more of Ellen Sharp’s Second Letter From Cerro Pelon Monarch Sanctuary

On Their Way 

Journey North citizen scientists are still reporting monarchs en route farther north in the US and even southern Ontario.

Darlene in Point Pelee National Park, ON: “Full sunshine & light southerly wind at 13kmh brought 18 Monarchs to the Tip of Point Pelee & beyond to continue their journey south to wherever it may be. First hour was slow with 3 arrivals but last hour increased to 15!” (11/09/2020)

Vidette in Cape May, NJ: “At any given time all day there were at least 2 dozen in the garden and whenever I looked up there were arrivals coming in. This last bunch has a few who are more fatigued, missing parts of wings, faded coloring. But most look brand new. Had Cape May folks here today and they tagged some.” (11/09/2020)

Shirley in Weaverville, NC: “Frost killed the Tithonia they had at the garden center as well as the Zinnias. This smallish Monarch was on the few pansies they had left.” (11/09/2020)

Western Monarch Population

Western Monarch Report From Gail Morris: On the Home Stretch

Winter-like conditions are creating a sense of urgency for monarchs. As Gail Morris writes, “Cold, snowy, wintery weather descended on many Western states this weekend as monarchs hurry to reach their overwintering destinations along the California coast and in Mexico. Monarch sightings were once again limited to the lower deserts of Arizona and California.”

Yurik in Emeryville, CA: “First one I have ever seen on the property in 8 years of living here. SO exciting. There have not been many monarchs since I was a kid.” (10/26/2020)

Read more of Gail Morris’ Western Monarch Fall Report #11: On the Home Stretch

Note: Gail’s report highlights tagged monarch sightings. While Journey North tracks migration through citizen observations, other researchers and groups organize monarch tagging efforts. Two are Southwest Monarch Study and Monarch Watch.

Two Weeks Left

Weekly Monarch News Updates will conclude on November 25. However, periodic updates from Estela Romero, Ellen Sharp and Gail Morris during the months of December, January and February will continue. Keep watching and reporting!