Western Monarchs 2019 Spring Report#11

Hoping for more monarch sightings.

By Gail Morris

April 25, 2019

Where are they?

When temperatures soared into the low 90’s in the Southern tier of the West this week after last week’s chill, we were hoping for more reports of monarchs across the region. A few new sightings were reported to Journey North this week, one each in Prescott, Arizona, Ohkey, Owingeh, New Mexico and Oakland, California, all slightly North of earlier movement. But overall, there is a lull, a gradual pause in sightings of older, worn monarchs now as this marathon generation reaches the end of their lives. But, a flurry of eggs and larvae are springing to life, likely unnoticed on many milkweeds across the range.

Seeds of a New Generation

Last week Karen Lemay reported a female monarch visiting her garden in Hereford, Arizona for the first time. This week she found her first egg! Lucky for Karen, some early milkweed was up and ready.

“I was able to find two Monarch eggs laid by the visiting Monarch on April 9th on our (Arizona Milkweed) Asclepias angustifolia plants in our yard.  There are probably more but I couldn’t get to the back side of the plants without jumping into the pond! 

Patty O’Brien in Tempe, Arizona, looked out her window and smiled on April 15.

“Today I saw the first female Monarch of Spring in my front yard laying eggs on my Arizona Milkweed (A. angustifolia.) The butterfly was too fast!”

Kelly Kessler is a Biologist for the Tonto National Forest. On Thursday she joined Arizona Game and Fish to witness the banding of two of the newest generation of Sonoran Desert Bald Eagles only about four and five weeks old. On the way back, something caught Kelly’s eye.

“I was out on the Cave Creek District today and saw a Monarch about one mile east of the district office! It flew by as I was driving, and was gone before I could get a picture. It was flying in a NE direction. It looked a little weathered, but again…it flew by so quickly, then disappeared.”


Every April, Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) does their “Spring cleaning.” It was time to clear roads of this winter’s heavy snow in the White Mountain region of Arizona on State Route 273 between Sunrise and Big Lake. This road is high in the mountains at 8,356 feet elevation. While monarchs are moving through the lower elevations of Arizona and New Mexico, this cold terrain may prove to be a real obstacle. Last year a monarch was reported in this area during the last week of April. It may be a while before monarchs appear here this year!

Earth Week

Step outside this week and embrace our planet’s beauty. You can make a difference! What will you do? Our love of monarchs and their migration may open our eyes in new ways to see the greater presence of all creatures around us. Keep an open eye and share what you see here on Journey North.

Please Report Your Sightings

Help us to find answers to these and other questions. Let’s keep following monarchs and their movements throughout the West. Please join Journey North and our partners who care deeply about the western monarch butterfly population to help track monarchs. Report your sightings on Journey North – sightings can include first adult monarchs, eggs, larvae, and first milkweed emergence.

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.

Cover Photo By Journey North citizen scientist, Marilee (Costa, Mesa, CA; 04/05/2019).