The overwintering season is winding down. In Mexico and California, Ana Moreno, Estela Romero, and Gail Morris share news of monarch colonies beginning to disperse and shift locations. Mating activity continues to pick up as well. Spring migration is in the air!
Letter from Ana Moreno: Love Is in the Air
At Cerro Pelon Sanctuary, monarch mating activity increased on Valentine’s Day. Coincidence? And the main colony has now separated into three smaller colonies. Some monarchs have even started venturing north. Ana Moreno writes, “As expected, February 14th “Valentine’s Day” is the time when we started to see more mating activity. From this moment on, more than 100 daily matings have been counted. During this week the colony also separated and is now divided into three different spots … On February 16th one of the arborists, Oswaldo Esquivel, started to see some butterflies going back north, which is normal for this time of the season. We have since located them about 20 minutes away between Cerro Pelon and nearby city Zitacuaro.”
Letter from Estela Romero: Monarchs Crossing Borders and Linking Cultures
At El Rosario and Sierra Chincua, monarch colonies at both sanctuaries have shifted slightly north. Estela Romero also shares an uplifting story of how monarchs build connections across cultures and borders. Estela writes, “The butterfly colonies at both sanctuaries have slightly moved an average of two hundred meters, slightly heading north. This movement might be an early sign of the end of the overwintering season … Israel is a young guy in his mid-twenties. He was born in a village located near the El Rosario Sanctuary and is part of the El Rosario Ejido. Israel shared his story with me recently.”
Letter from Gail Morris: Western Monarch Winter 2021–22 Report #8
In California, monarchs are starting the leave overwintering sites along the coast, and changing weather could kick-start migration. Gail Morris writes, “Monarchs are starting to leave the comfort of the groves throughout the California coast with a few now moving further east than earlier while their mating frenzy continues. Arizona is also reporting monarchs this week. Are milkweeds up and ready for these early migrators to visit? A change in the weather is forecast this week for the region after its active warm spell, so keep your eyes open to monarchs beginning their migration.”
Still Time to Participate in Southeastern Monarch Monitoring Project
The spring migration season is almost here but there’s still time to participate in our targeted monarch butterfly monitoring project in the Southeastern U.S. Your observations contribute to research efforts on overwintering behavior of monarchs, such as nectar sources during winter months:
Roy in Scanlon, FL: “Predominant nectar sources [for monarchs] included two small flowers growing close to the ground. One little blue flower was in the violet family and the other flower was Southern Dewberry-Rubus trivialis. I was looking for buds and flowers on the trees, but did not see any.” (02/16/2022)
Thank you to all who have participated and please keep reporting. Learn more about What to Report.