Arrivals Within the Biosphere Reserve!

November 4, 2021 by Team Journey North

Exciting news! Estela Romero and Ellen Sharp share news of monarchs arriving within the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico. Out West, Gail Morris highlights more good news from California. And Journey North volunteers play a big role in the fifth annual International Monarch Monitoring Blitz.

“Third week of monarch migration at Lake Buchanan. Found huckleberry tree packed full of monarchs. Great to see so many after three week of monarchs coming through. Have not seen so many in past years here.” Comment & photo: Jack in Burnet, TX (10/29/2021)

The Leading Edge of Migration

Exciting news! As highlighted by both Estela Romero and Ellen Sharp (scroll down for their reports), monarchs are starting to arrive within the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in central Mexico. Many more monarchs will soon be joining these first waves of arrivals!

Oscar in Querétaro, QUE: “We saw several [monarchs] flying by.” (10/30/2021)

Farther north in the U.S., activity is increasing along the Gulf Coast as monarchs hurry on their way. The Eastern Flyway often lags behind the Central Flyway in timing of migration.

Don in Crawfordville, FL: “I saw several hundred Monarch butterflies this morning feeding and moving between the flowering plants along the coastline on either side of the lighthouse in the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida.” (11/01/2021)

More good news from California as numbers are increasing at overwintering sites along the coast and more are on the way.

Joyce in Union City, CA: “Saw a female Monarch fluttering around our butterfly bush. Hoping she makes it to the coast.” (10/28/2021)

Letter From Estela Romero: Arriving Monarchs and Día de los Muertos

In her second letter of the season, Estela Romero reports on arriving monarchs at El Rosario Sanctuary and details the significance of Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos). Estela writes, “The sightings of these first monarch arrivals were verified by local shepherds, Lucero, Alejandra and Baldemar, who also live close to El Rosario Sanctuary … On the Day of the Dead, we remember our ancestors by sharing memories, by evoking their names and telling stories over the whole year. The spiritual connections between the living and the dead are celebrated with color, art, music and happiness.”

Read more of Estela Romero’s Letter: Arriving Monarchs and Día de los Muertos (English Version)»

Leer más de la carta de Estela Romero: Monarcas que Llegan y Día de los Muertos (Versión en español)»

Correction: Journey North is committed to correcting our mistakes. Last week, we identified the small pest making a large negative impact on the forests of the Monarch Butterfly Reserve as a “screwworm”. This identification came from an article in the popular press about the infestation, and was not the term used by Estela Romero. We stand corrected. The problem at the Reserve is related to pine bark beetle infestation. There have been outbreaks in many temperate forests in Mexico. The most common pine bark beetles are Dendroctonus frontalis, Dendroctonus mexicanus and Scolytus mundus.

Video: Three Nations Join to Celebrate Monarch Butterflies

As some of us say goodbye to monarchs for the season, join Estela Romero in welcoming them back to their winter home. Explore the joy, remembrance, and comfort as communities in central Mexico celebrate the return of the monarch with Day of the Dead festivities. Celebrate how three nations – Canada, the U.S., and Mexico – are united in efforts to protect monarchs and their extraordinary migration. And stay tuned as Ambassador Monarch Butterflies – part of the Symbolic Migration Project – will soon be arriving at schools near the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. 

Watch the full video: Three Nations Join to Celebrate Monarch Butterflies»

Letter From Ellen Sharp: Joy and Frustration

We welcome back Ellen Sharp who writes from Cerro Pelon Sanctuary. In her first letter of the season, Ellen reflects on the joy of seeing monarchs return to Cerro Pelon and expresses concern on what the future holds. She writes, “Yesterday I lay on my back on my rooftop and watched these furiously pumping silhouettes cut across a ceiling of cloud cover … It felt like ages since we’d last seen these determined little pilgrims, when the migration departed last March and the eyes of the world turned away from the butterfly sanctuaries. In this void, illegal logging in the Cerro Pelon Sanctuary spiked, and my colleagues and I did what we could to ask the relevant authorities for help.”

 Read more of Ellen Sharp’s Letter: Joy and Frustration»

Eastern Monarch Population

Eastern Monarch Fall 2021 Report #8

Migration showed signs of slowing down but there were still scattered reports along the Eastern Flyway. Activity was higher farther south along the Gulf Coast. These monarchs are playing catch up: the Eastern Flyway often lags behind the Central Flyway in timing of migration. And along the Central Flyway, reports were steady in Texas and picked up in Mexico as more monarchs approached overwintering grounds.

Read more of the Eastern Monarch Fall 2021 Report #8»

Western Monarch Population

Letter from Gail Morris: Western Monarch Fall 2021 Report #8

Out West, Gail Morris provides an update on monarch numbers at overwintering sites in California. Gail writes, “The news is exciting – over 26,000 monarchs have already gathered along the California coast and more are on the way! This is especially hopeful as a major storm slammed the coast with high winds and rain last week, but monarchs found safe locations to nestle in the protective canopy of trees to ride it out. Meantime monarchs continued to move on good weather days in California, Arizona and New Mexico.”

Read more of Gail Morris’ Letter: Western Monarch Fall 2021 Report #8»

5th Annual International Monarch Monitoring Blitz Was the Most Successful Ever—Thanks to You!

We are happy to share the results from the fifth annual International Monarch Monitoring Blitz. From July 23 to August 1, 2021, our Journey North community helped the Monarch Blitz reach record levels of participation. Journey North volunteers accounted for over half of all volunteers and observations. 

Read the full article here including the CEC Press Release here»

Corrected Link: Monarch Migration Highlights From Cape May

Oops! In last week’s news update, we mistakenly shared a broken link. Here is the fixed link for Highlights From New Jersey Audubon Cape May Bird Observatory.