Monarchs Continue Migration Journey

May 21, 2020 by Team Journey North

Monarchs have now been reported in several new states including Colorado and Massachusetts as well as the Canadian Province of Ontario.

“Been anxiously awaiting her!” Submitted by: Monica (Montgomery, IL; 05/16/2020)

Eastern Population of Monarchs

Monarchs have now been reported in several new states including Colorado and Massachusetts as well as the Canadian Province of Ontario. In the Upper Midwest, monarchs have now crossed the 42N parallel with more reports coming in from Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. When will they reach either Minnesota and Maine or Quebec and Nova Scotia? Keep watching and reporting to Journey North. 

From Broomfield, CO: Marlin reported, “1 monarch feeding on a chives flower in back yard. My daughter spotted it and I ran over to take the picture but it was too fast for me. I will be on the watch now though. The milkweed is up. I have some a foot tall already. I just checked for eggs but none yet.” (05/19/2020)

From Chatham, MA: Elizabeth observed her first monarch and noted thatit was by far the earliest” she had every seen a Monarch in the Spring. She noted the Monarch size, bright colors and undamaged wings and flying habit in her report. Elizabeth also reported that Common milkweed (Ascelipias syriaca) has “just emerged” in her gardens. Elizabeth promised to check for eggs over the next few days. She worries about loss of Monarch habitat. “Cape Cod has also become extremely landscaped over the last 40 years and host plants are greatly diminished.” (05/16/2020)

From Chicago, IL: Sarah saw her first monarch as it was nectaring from a blooming crab apple tree for a few minutes.” (05/14/2020)

From Norfolk, ON: Cindy, “saw a monarch flutter past 2 of us at 10:07 am. Have never seen one this early. Got a good look at it through binoculars.. It was definitely a monarch, didn’t get a photo as unfortunately 2 other people saw it and stood in front of me. It was in good condition, not faded and flying strongly, seemed to be going west. I’m not sure about milkweed in that area although we have milkweed at our house about 20 minutes away.” (05/19/2020)

From Central Elgin, ON: Larry reported, Nice bright color, so good to see them again. Flying over the yard circled and landed near our milkweed garden. Milkweed is up about 2” Will check for eggs We have raised about 500 monarchs over the past 4 years, my wife also saw the butterfly.” (05/19/2020)

From Darlington, WI: Mary observed her first monarch in her backyard which has “lots of” milkweed. (05/16/2020)

The Many Splendors of Milkweed

Despite the cold temperatures and rain, Journey North observers report that milkweed continues to emerge in advance of Monarch migration edge.

From Winnipeg, MBCharmaine reported, “First milkweed pops up. After an unseasonably cool spring, this week turned unseasonably warm with strong south winds and temperatures in the mid-20s Celsius. Two of my 80 swamp milkweed plants have surfaced.” (05/19/2020)

Egg Laying and Eggs

Monarchs continue to move north along the Atlantic Coast and the Midwest laying eggs along the way. Journey North citizen scientists reported first sightings for monarch eggs as far north as Wisconsin and Michigan and egg laying in Connecticut. Eggs sighted and egg laying activity picks up in southern US. Check your milkweed plants — both  leaves and flower buds – for eggs. Continue to submit your monarch egg sightings to Journey North. 

From Madison, WI: Shannon found seven eggs on her backyard milkweed plant.(06/20/2020)

From West Olive, MI: Babette found eggs on her milkweed plant. (05/16/2020)

From Stafford Springs, CT: Jody observed a Monarch with faded wing laying her eggs on milkweedjust starting to come up.” Jody exclaimed, “A beautiful sight after all the cold weather we have had!” (05/16/2020)

From Lancaster, SC: Kathy counted 30 Monarch eggs on Swamp, Common and Tropical milkweed planted in her Waystation garden. (05/17/2020)

From Enid, OK: Diane counted four monarch eggs on a Showy milkweed plant with one egg with the flower bud. (05/18/2020)

Nectar-Producing Flowers 

While milkweed is critical for monarchs, other nectar-producing flowers are important also. Many Journey North observers provide rich reports of monarch nectaring behavior and the plants Monarchs visit. 

From Dallas, TX: Cindy observed a first generation male monarch “fluttered about for about 15 minutes and rested on boxwood for several minutes…[moving on to nectar from] Echinachea, Gregg’s Mistflower, Monarda fistulosa, and Engelmann’s Daisy…” (05/18/2020)

From Naperville, IL: Jo observed an adult monarch “feeding on honeysuckle in backyard garden.” (05/16/2020)

From Fountain, CO: Tim observed his first monarch on lilac. “The butterfly stayed in the area for about 15 minutes nectaring on the lilac bush…”  (05/14/2020)

Western Monarch Population Migration News

Gail Morris, Coordinator of the Southwest Monarch Study, provides an update on the Western Monarch Population in her weekly report. This week Gail writes, “Monarchs Jump into Utah! Strong winds from the Southwest swept through the region and the first sightings of monarchs appeared in Utah this week! This is a major milestone as monarchs set up summer breeding camps and continue their journey to the northern stretches of the West. Local Citizen Scientists report this is the earliest sightings of monarchs in Utah in many years. Monarchs are now stretching from the California coast and southern border of Arizona and Mexico to the north central regions of Utah.” Read more

Keep Reporting

We need continued reports of monarchs, monarch eggs, monarch caterpillars and milkweed.

Monarchs & Milkweed Spring Maps

Please report:

  • Monarch Adult (FIRST sighted) 
  • Monarch Egg (FIRST sighted)
  • Monarch Larva (First sighted 
  • Milkweed (FIRST sighted) 

After these FIRST sightings, please report: 

  • Monarch Adult Sighted
  • Milkweed Sighted
  • Monarch Egg Sighted
  • Monarch Larva Sighted 
  • Monarch (OTHER observations) *including behaviors such as mating and nectaring