Letter from Gail Morris: Western Monarch Summer Report #2


Published: 07/29/2021

Dear Western Monarch Friends,

This week marks a special hallmark of the monarch summer breeding season: The International Monarch Monitoring Blitz! Monarch aficionados across the United States, Canada and Mexico are all out searching earnestly for monarchs in all their life stages – adults, eggs, larvae and pupae. YOU can join this grass roots Community Science effort to help everyone get a sneak peak at how well the summer breeding population is faring as we edge closer to the beginning of the Fall Migration in the weeks to come. Grab your camera or phone to verify your sighting if you can (of course we know how swift monarchs can be and this isn’t always possible!) Journey North is one of the major repositories for the monitoring Blitz data. Data gathered during the Blitz is uploaded to the Trinational Monarch Knowledge Network, where it is accessible for anyone to consult and download. International Monarch Monitoring Blitz runs from July 23 to August 1, so there is still time to submit your sightings.

Why Journey North? Long-term observational data is critical to determine trends. With the monarch populations in flux, comparisons from year-to-year are especially important. Journey North has been collecting monarch butterfly data – first adults seen, adults, eggs, larvae – since 1998! What a wonderful way to track the normal ebbs and flows of the monarch population. This is especially important now with the critical drop in Western numbers. How are monarchs faring this summer? YOU have the answer! If you are only posting your sightings locally on Facebook pages or other regional venues, your observations will not be counted. They must also be reported to resources where scientists turn to for recent data and also information that is included in published peer reviewed papers. Journey North is one of the premier repositories of Community Scientists monarch data and is highly regarded and frequently cited for its historical value.

So, take a few moments this week and look for monarchs! A new generation is likely eclosing and they should be easier to find as their numbers flood the fields of rich nectar and milkweed. The beginning of the migration is just a few weeks away in the northern portions of their breeding regions, so get ready. Next week we’ll share more Blitz findings in a special edition of the Journey North Western Monarch Update.

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.