Monarchs Are Moving North
The March equinox is days away and monarchs are heading north! Estela Romero and Ana and Pato Moreno provide the latest updates from the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico. And Gail Morris highlights monarch activity in California and throughout the Western U.S. Report your first monarch and milkweed observations of the season to Journey North.
Letter from Estela Romero: Holding Our Breath — Awaiting the Massive Departure of Monarchs
Estela Romero reports that a significant number of monarchs are streaming out of El Rosario Sanctuary and relocating slightly north at La Salud. At Sierra Chincua, not many monarchs remain after much of the colony departed on March 10. Estela writes, “This week, monarchs have formed a seemingly endless rushing parade along every trail and path in El Rosario Sanctuary … A significant number of monarchs have now moved to the La Salud forested area, following a pattern that has emerged over the last 4-5 years … Thursday, March 10, 2022, is the official registered day of the final massive departure at this colony [Sierra Chincua].”
Letter from Ana and Pato Moreno: Once again, the Monarch Butterflies Surprise Us
At Cerro Pelon Sanctuary, Ana and Pato Moreno provide an update on monarch departures, and they also provide of a glimpse of how monarch behavior and the timing of spring migration can vary year-to-year. Ana and Pato write, “There didn’t seem to be many butterflies anymore, but somehow, they came back together. As we had mentioned before, the colony this year was very large, so we think that because it was split on three different parts, they came back together into one on March 13 in Las Canoas. They were mating by the thousands. It is normal for us that the butterflies leave their colonies around the spring equinox, which may happen again this season. But it hasn’t always been like this, because the previous season we only had butterflies until the end of February.”
Letter from Gail Morris: Western Monarch Winter 2021–22 Report #11
In the Western U.S., Gail Morris shares that monarchs are making progress inland after leaving coastal overwintering sites, and more milkweed is growing throughout the landscape. Gail writes, “Small numbers of monarchs are lingering at the coastal overwintering sites in California but others are reported further inland as the Spring Migration is underway. Native milkweed is also up in many locations welcoming gravid females to lay their eggs as they move through the landscape. Fruit trees in-flower along the way are offering an opportunity for monarchs to nectar to refill their energy needs as well. Keep an eye out for monarchs!”
Seeing Monarchs or Milkweed? Report Your Observations!
During this early period of migration, monarchs are being spotted north of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico and Texas. Where will the leading edge of migration be next week? Explore our maps from previous years and see if you notice any patterns.
Patricia in Zibatá, Qro.: “There were many trees full of beautiful monarchs here in Zibata El Marques Queretaro Mexico.” (03/12/2022)
Katie in Leander, TX: “First monarch sighting of the year, flying about 5 feet over head in a construction area. Fluttered by me long enough for me to make sure it was a monarch.” (03/14/2022)
Mara Lee in Edinburg, TX: “Several times today, I saw one Monarch butterfly flying over my yard. Monarch landed on milkweed 5pm. I believe Monarch was laying eggs. Monarch stayed on milkweed at least 20 minutes. This is my FIRST SIGHTING of a Monarch butterfly this year!” (03/15/2022)
This spring, report your first observations of:
- Monarch Adult (FIRST sighted)
- Monarch Egg (FIRST sighted)
- Monarch Larva (FIRST sighted)
- Milkweed (FIRST sighted)
A Note About Eastern Monarch Population Numbers
At this time of year, the final count of the Eastern monarch population is usually announced. This year that announcement has been delayed, perhaps due to ongoing political events in Mexico. We hope to hear more news in the coming weeks. See Monarch Joint Venture’s Facebook post for more information.