On Faded Wings

April 25, 2019 by Elizabeth Howard

No longer their brilliant orange, the monarchs from Mexico are nearing the end — and a new generation is about to continue the journey north.

“We have had a couple of strong storm fronts move through our area recently and several of the butterflies had damaged wings. The one in the photo had the most damage but it continued to feed and fly just fine,” reported Anita Brisco from Washington, Arkansas on April 24, 2019.

The Final Days

Three new states reported monarch’s arrival this week: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut!

New Branford, CT (4/23/19): “I could not believe my eyes. It is way too early. My milkweed isn’t even up yet. Did not get a chance for a photo as it did not stick around,” reported Elizabeth.

The monarchs of the overwintering generation have only a few weeks left to live. The worn-winged butterflies are no longer their brilliant orange, and most will have died by the first of May.  Fewer and fewer sightings are being reported now, and the butterflies sighted are showing signs of their age:

Rogers, AR (4/20/19): “Spotted one female, very pale, not tagged. Laid approximately 20 eggs on our very small milkweed plants that are just coming up.” More…

Kirksville, MO (4/21/19): “I saw her at about 3:00 p.m. today. She is travel worn but laid eggs on the milkweed which as you can see are not very tall.” More…

Endings and Beginnings

We’re waiting for the first reports of fresh-winged butterflies. Members of the new monarch generation will be emerging in great numbers any day. On fresh wings, those butterflies will complete the spring migration.

I have not seen any fresh monarchs yet, but will let you know when I do,” promised Kathy Metzger of Montgomery, Texas on April 23rd.

Red Admirals, Not Monarchs

A spectacular migration of Red Admiral butterflies is underway right now. Some observers are confusing them with monarchs. Are you sure you can identify a monarch when you see one?

Western Monarchs: Where Are They?

Gail Morris says the West is also experiencing a gradual pause in sightings of older, worn monarchs now as this marathon generation reaches the end of their lives. But seeds of a new generation are springing to life, likely unnoticed on many milkweeds across the range. More…