Reaching Overwintering Sites

November 9, 2022 by Team Journey North

Much news to share! Estela Romero provides an update from the Monarch Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, where new arrivals will continue as monarchs remain on the move farther north. Out West, Gail Morris highlights Western monarch activity, and Isis Howard from the Xerces Society provides an update on preliminary population counts at overwintering sites.

Photo: Estela Romero in Angangueo, Michoacán, MX (11/02/2022)

The Leading Edge of Migration

Monarchs continue to arrive at the sanctuaries within the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico. And more are on their way!

Armando in Joya Verde, Tampaulipas, MX: “Se observo el paso y alimentación de las monarcas por la sierra de Tamaulipas, clima fresco y poco viento y soleado, en la parte mas alta de la sierra. Volando al sur.” [Translation: “I observed monarch passing and feeding in the Sierra de Tamaulipas, cool weather and little wind and sunshine, in the highest part of the sierra. Flying south.”] (11/06/2022)

In California, Journey North volunteers are observing roosting behavior as monarch numbers continue to grow along the coast. 

Susan in El Segundo, CA: “They’re back. About 2 dozen Monarchs roosting around 25-30 feet up in pine trees. Small clumps of 4-8 on the tips of high branches waiting for the sun (9:30 am). I noticed 4-5 flying in the warm sun first. I have to get my eyes adjusted to finding the ones resting in the trees for this new migration. Good to see them back this year.” (11/05/2022)

Letter From Estela Romero: Monarch Numbers Rising and Reforestation Efforts

Estela Romero shares news of more monarchs arriving daily with the Biosphere Reserve, and she also highlights community-led reforestation efforts that are making a difference for monarchs. Estela writes, “It is miraculous to witness. The number of monarchs arriving rises every day … 261 Ejidatarios families, in the El Rosario Ejido, planted close to 280,000 oyamel, pine and cedar trees, while the 36 Ejidatarios in Cerro Prieto Ejido (Sierra Chincua), reported that they planted 18,000 trees. This reforestation effort is critical to the survival of monarchs.”

Read more of Estela Romero’s Letter: Monarch Numbers Rising and Reforestation Efforts»

Leer más de la carta de Estela Romero: Aumento del Número de Monarcas y Esfuerzos de Reforestación»

Eastern Monarch Population

Eastern Monarch Fall 2021 Report #5

Migration is slowing down but there are still scattered reports in the Central and Eastern Flyways. Activity is also starting to wane along the Gulf Coast, and even Journey North volunteers in Texas are noting a drop off in numbers. However, north of Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, reports are steady as more monarchs approach overwintering grounds. 

Read more of the Eastern Monarch Fall 2022 Report #5»

Western Monarch Population

Letter from Gail Morris: Western Monarch Fall 2021 Report #5

Out West, Gail Morris highlights migratory activity in California and Arizona and shares news of a recent storm system passing through overwintering sites. Gail writes, “Community science reports this week reveal monarchs hurrying on their way to their winter homes with sightings across central California and Arizona … Meantime, last week brought the first storm of the season … our reports will help us all learn how monarchs survive this special season.”

Read more of Gail Morris’ Letter: Western Monarch Fall 2022 Report #5»

Preliminary Western Monarch Counts in California

Isis Howard, an Endangered Species Conservation Biologist at the Xerces Society, was kind enough to share recent updates from California on preliminary Western monarch population counts. Isis writes, “We have over 55,000 monarchs reported across ~25 overwintering sites so far (early-season “unofficial” count status), this represents less than 10% of the total number of overwintering sites that were surveyed last year for the Thanksgiving Count, but it does include some of our larger sites (where we see lots of monarchs!) like Natural Bridges, Pacific Grove, and Pismo Beach.”

Read more about preliminary Western monarch counts in California»

Other Resources

Explore and learn more about Western monarch overwintering sites here. And to stay up to speed on the monarch count at Pacific Grove, check out the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History dashboard for the latest numbers.

Winter Reporting

Monitor Overwintering Monarchs in Southeastern U.S.

Journey North encourages volunteers to report winter monarch sightings in the Southeastern U.S. from December through March. If you live in the Gulf states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida as well as Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, we want to hear from you.

Learn more about how to participate»