Western Monarch Spring Report #14


By Gail Morris

Monarchs on the move!

Monarchs are moving quickly north and east and hopefully will soon reach Washington and Idaho. They’re already stretching through California, Oregon and Utah, but Dr. David James’s hopes for a large summer monarch population floating into the state of Washington were dashed by his recent annual trip to the Northern California breeding grounds.

Jody in Salem, Oregon, saw her first two monarchs of the season on May 28. “Right on schedule and through the same two trees, across my back yard, and headed north.”

On May 30 Aramee spotted the first monarch of the season in Fallon, Nevada. “Single monarch nectaring on Asclepias speciosa and patrolling the area.”

Terry in Smith River, California, also saw the first monarch sighting of the season on June 2. “FOY fresh female, going north very quickly through Smith River Organic Farm and Milkweed Nursery. Too quick to get my phone out but only a few feet away, so I could tell sex. Asclepias speciosa and A. syriaca both in bud. Hundreds of seedling plants out several days ago in outside nursery.”

Eric submitted this report from Juntura, OR: I work at a wildlife mitigation site an this has always been a side project for me. My journey started with a reduction of milkweed due to herbicide application. There are other species present…I had my binoculars, but couldn’t tell the gender of the monarch before it went with the breeze. What I could gather was that it was large & bright colored, looked to be in excellent condition. I tried to go back to the house an grab my phone to take a picture, but never found it again. Searched for a couple days, but haven’t seen since. Milkweed is coming up at the site, but not flowering yet. There is plenty of nectar around. It looked to be feeding on clover flowers at the time. I have been checking the milkweed in the area for eggs…so far nothing. It is actually a little earlier than expected for a sighting for me. I’ll be keeping my eyes out for additional sightings & pictures.” (06/01/2020)

Rose from Logan, UT submitted a first sighting of a monarch egg on June 3rd. 

Report from Trinity River, California

Dr. David James of Washington State University has studied monarchs for many years. “Annually since 2012, I have spent the Memorial Day weekend along the Trinity River in northern California, recording numbers of adult and immature Monarchs. In some years (e.g 2015) I have seen more than 100 adult Monarchs over 2 days. Last year (2019) was the first year That I did not see a single Monarch or find any eggs or larvae. This year, I also did not find a single Monarch or any eggs/larvae (photo shows the Trinity River and scattered milkweed in the foreground on May 23 2020). This suggests, that like last year, we will see very few Monarchs in WA and BC [British Columbia]. Only 8 confirmed sightings of Monarchs were reported in WA in 2019. Undoubtedly, there are some Monarchs currently migrating northwards but so very few. May their migration be successful so that we have many more than 8 in Washington this summer!”

June Monitoring

Grab your camera! Send in photos of monarchs and their eggs, larvae and pupae anywhere that you see them. Your reports help everyone see where monarchs are and how many. We especially would love to see photos of monarchs in the leading edge of the migration in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Send your report of what you see and your photos.

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.