Letter from Gail Morris: Western Monarch Spring Report #6

 

Published: 04/07/2021

Dear Western Monarch Friends,

Temperatures soared this week but the number of new first sightings of monarchs remained low, typical for this time in the season. But New Mexico now reported their first monarch just north of the Mexican border this week and in Arizona a new sighting appeared in the borderlands in the Southeast. Could these monarchs be remigrating from Mexico? 

Overwintering monarchs are now reaching the end of their lives, so fields may look empty of adult monarchs flying. But eggs, larvae and pupae are likely still hidden in milkweed thickets in California and Arizona. Soon we’ll see their bright fresh wings flying and journeying towards their summer breeding areas.

Western Sightings

California

Lindsey in Tustin saw her first monarch of the season on March 30. “First monarch seen in our backyard - I participate in the UNIV of GEORGIA #projectmonarchhealth.”

Mimi in Montrose found 3 monarchs the same day. “2 adult females 1 male in my garden.”

Jordan Marie also saw her first monarch of the season in Huntington Beach. “Saw a healthy Monarch fly into my friend’s backyard. It did not land but was flaying around for a minute or two in the backyard. No tracking sticker was seen.”

Lisa in Laguna Niguel saw one monarch, too. “We planted milkweed two months ago and today we saw our first adult monarch fluttering through our school garden! Hooray!”

Arizona

Fruit trees and native trees in flower are favorite monarch nectar sources during the Spring migration so be sure to look closely when you see one.

On April 1, Julie spotted one monarch in Sahuarita, just 50 miles north of the border with Mexico. “Just saw this beauty getting nectar from the orange tree blossoms.” Could this be a remigrant from Mexico?

Rachel in Glendale saw her first monarch of the season in her yard in Glendale on April 5. “It was too fast to catch it - but here is[sic] the flowers it was landing on before I grabbed my camera: bunga dahlia flowers, and hibiscus. So exciting! - I will report more as we enjoy the nice weather outside.” 

 New Mexico

Monarchs soar into New Mexico! 

C.J. spotted a monarch on April 5 in Las Cruces. “It was my FOY on the Leasburg Dam SP Mogollon Trail.” This location is 60 miles from the Mexican border. Could this be a remigrant from Mexico?

Further North, Rene saw her first monarch of the season in Santa Fe on April 6. “An extremely early date for this area. Presumed female nectaring on the blossoms of New Mexico Privet. There was a strong and unseasonably warm airflow out of the south today.” Monarchs love to ride winds from the south to help their flight.

Milkweed Up!

New reports of milkweed breaking ground and growing are appearing as well. John found milkweed growing fast on April 4 in Fair Oaks, California. “Showy milkweed. Backyard. Growth progress.” 

Reports wanted!

Your reports can help everyone know the “status of the breeding habitat” where you live. Don’t forget to report milkweeds up, flowers in bloom (remember, monarchs may lay eggs on milkweed before they flower so nectar resources are important and any monarchs you may be lucky enough to see! Do their wings look fresh and new or worn? A photo from your phone or camera can help us all see the progress early monarchs are now making in the spring migration. Warm weather and southerly winds can help monarchs move into your area!

Gail Morris is the Coordinator of the Southwest Monarch Study (www.swmonarchs.org), a Monarch Watch Conservation Specialist, and the Vice President of the Monarch Butterfly Fund and the Central Arizona Butterfly Association. The Western Monarch Population News is based on comments provided to Gail Morris. We hope to increase the number of sightings and therefore photos and comments entered into the Journey North. We rely on the volunteers who communicate regularly with Gail and who agree to participate in our effort to increase awareness of the population of western Monarchs. You can reach her at gail@swmonarchs.org.