Migration Is Gaining Momentum

March 23, 2022 by Team Journey North

Spring is here! Estela Romero provides an update on remaining monarchs in Mexico. Texas is a hotspot of monarch activity, and reports are coming as far north as Oklahoma and Arkansas. And Gail Morris highlights monarch sightings in California and the Southwest. Report your first monarch and milkweed observations of the season to Journey North.

“I saw a few Monarchs, but only two could I see close enough to see the wear on their wings and nicks and scratches.” Photo: Brenda in Corpus Christi, TX (03/16/2022)

Eastern Monarch Population

Letter from Estela Romero: An Anthem at Their Departure

In Mexico, Estela Romero provides an update on two monarch colonies: El Rosario and Río Grande-La Salud. It will not be long before these last remaining monarchs depart. Estela writes, “The colony in El Rosario rearranged itself during the past week, receiving additional butterflies from surrounding areas within and beyond the El Rosario Sanctuary, perhaps even from other sanctuaries like Cerro Pelón … Mating is still to be seen everywhere in both El Rosario and Río Grande-La Salud colonies. The monarchs take off from tree branches, meet in the air, cling to each other, then suddenly fall to the ground as if they are coconut fruits falling from palm trees, not for a moment separating. Both colonies, El Rosario and Río Grande-La Salud, shall soon dissolve at their definite departure as the hot sun urges their return north.”

Read more of Estela Romero’s Letter: An Anthem at Their Departure»

Leer más de la carta de Estela Romero: Un Himno a su Partida»

Migrating Monarchs

Texas is a hotspot of activity as more monarchs depart overwintering sites in Mexico and make their way north. 

Becca in San Antonio, TX: “Two nectaring on mountain laurel. First [monarchs] in yard this season.” (03/20/2022)

A few monarch reports are coming as far north as Oklahoma and Arkansas. Is this the leading edge of migration? Where will monarchs be next week? Explore maps from previous years and see if you notice any trends.

Karen in White Hall, AR: “Single Monarch on peach blossom.” (03/20/2022)

Marcus in Choctaw, OK: “Saw a single flyer about 15:00 (3:00 p.m.)” (03/20/2022)

Western Monarch Population

Letter from Gail Morris: Western Monarch Spring 2022 Report #1

In the Western U.S., Gail Morris highlights an uptick in sightings from Southern California and urges volunteers to keep an eye out for worn-winged monarchs. Gail writes, “Monarch sightings are on the rise this week particularly in Southern California but also more inland in Moreno Valley. A monarch was also reported in Las Vegas, Nevada, and several were seen in Arizona. As the migration continues, keep an eye out for worn-winged and aged overwintering monarchs expanding their range your way. Is your milkweed up and hearty nectar ready?”

Read more of Gail Morris’ Letter: Western Monarch Spring 2022 Report #1» 

Your Observations Provide Valuable Data

Are Western monarchs finding enough milkweed and nectar? Are they arriving to spring and summer breeding areas earlier or later than in previous years? Your observations provide valuable data. Thanks for reporting!

Della in Phoenix, AZ: “My son spotted this one, the first of the season. Female, good condition, landing on Buddeljia davidii in my front yard. Circling and landing. 78F, light breeze, sunny.” (03/13/2022)

Keep Reporting and Include Photos

During this early period of migration, it can be difficult to distinguish between a migrating monarch and an overwintering monarch. Not all migrating monarchs have faded and tattered wings, complicating things even more. Please share if you think you’ve observed a migrating monarch or a winter resident. If you’re uncertain, please let us know.

And if possible, please include photos in your reports (one photo per report). Monarchs can be difficult subjects to photograph. One potential workaround is to take a video and then extract a screenshot to use as a photo. Give it a shot!