Approaching Winter

November 23, 2022 by Team Journey North

December is almost here and monarch fall migration is winding down. Thanks for following along and sharing your observations. In the coming months, stay tuned for updates from overwintering sites in Mexico and California, and if you live in the Southeastern U.S., report winter monarch observations. Cheers to another great fall migration season!

Monarch numbers are growing at sanctuaries in Mexico. Photo: Estela Romero

Eastern Monarch Population

Still Stragglers

Fall migration is winding down as December approaches. But some monarchs are still making their way to overwintering sites in Mexico.

David in Fort Worth, TX: “Ms. Ibarra, 5th grade teacher at Diamond Hill Elementary School, took this picture [of a monarch] at our playground on 11-16-2022. We have recently installed our new pollinator garden and waystation with the help of a grant from the National Wildlife Federation Butterfly Heroes Schoolyard Habitats program.” (11/16/2022)

Letter From Estela Romero: Monarch Colonies Consolidating

At El Rosario and Sierra Chincua sanctuaries, Estela Romero shares that monarch colonies are growing in size, but local communities are noting some interesting behavior. Estela writes, “Warmer than usual temperatures seem to be causing a strange activity. A significant number of monarchs have been seen flying downhill as if flying somewhere to the north. Other monarchs have been seen flying southwest and still other monarchs have been seen flying in indeterminate directions. Only a minor portion is returning to former El Rosario and Sierra Chincua locations as of yet. Yet, even with this confusing behavior, some monarchs have started to consolidate in overwintering locations.”

Read more of Estela Romero’s Letter: Monarch Colonies Consolidating»

Leer más de la carta de Estela Romero: Consolidación de Colonias Monarca»

Western Monarch Population

Fall Roosts and Intense Nectaring

Many volunteers and organizations are involved in monitoring monarchs at the overwintering locations in California. As of November 18th, Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History reported 12,328 monarchs counted at the Pacific Grove Monarch Sanctuary. If you didn’t catch Xerces Society’s rundown on monarch counts, they provided this information on 11/22/2022:

  • Natural Bridges: 7,500 as of 11/15/22
  • Lighthouse Field: 2,000 as of 11/15/22
  • Pacific Grove: 12,328 as of 11/18/22
  • Pismo Beach: 24,058 as of 11/15/22

Along the coast of California, Journey North reports of roosting behavior is picking up. Journey North volunteers also continue to observe intense feeding activity in California, New Mexico, and Arizona.

Susan in El Segundo, CA: “7:45 in the morning. Only one butterfly flying, the rest in small groups (5-10) roosting high in every few pine trees waiting to warm-up in the sun. Hard for me to count, so there could be more than 100, scattered high above in the tips of the branches.” (11/15/2022)

James in Green Valley, AZ: “ I observed 2 males and 1 female nectaring on Gregg’s Mist Flower or A. subulata blossom. Wind 5-10 mph. 57 deg.” (11/16/2022)

Anne in Alameda, CA: “Too many to count. They were sunning themselves in a few trees. And fluttering between the trees.” (11/19/2022)

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»