Eastern Monarch Fall 2022 Report #2
published: September 29, 2022
From peninsulas to coastal ports, Journey North volunteers are documenting monarch roosting behavior. Early in September, monarch roosts numbers kept increasing along the shores of the Great Lakes. Mid September, volunteers observed roosts in the central U.S. This week, volunteers are observing roosts in Texas. Along the Atlantic Flyway, the Delaware Bay and the Chesapeake Bay continue to be hotspots for roost activity.
All these observational reports tell us much about habitat needs and migratory pathways during this critical stage of the monarch annual life cycle.
Along Lake Michigan
Opal in Peninsula Point, MI counted about 500 monarchs in roosts: “Slowly streamed into the point throughout the day, with most roosting high in the cedars and some in the line Hawthorn tree. 9/22/22 remained at the point due to on/off rain showers/wind/clouds. Waiting to see if they leave late afternoon when front clears out. It’s Peak Migration here…this may be the last group we see for the season. They roost just for the night, then out the next morning. They leave Peninsula Point in Stonington, MI, cross Lake Michigan to get to the Door County Peninsula in Wisconsin. They fly south to Door County.” (09/22/2022)
Along Lake Erie
Darlene in Point Pelee National Park, ON counted an estimated 2725 monarchs: “Point Pelee National Park at the Tip 4:55-7:25pm sunset 7:20…Most roosts were in the exact same location as previous evening although some were less dense. Discovered a couple new clusters at Tip shuttle stop & a few more in trees on east beach. Strong west wind vigorously tossing around tree branches; monarchs are on east side of trees. Decreased but still strong wind will carry through 9/27. They may be here another day. Hurricane Ian is looming south in Florida. We shall see if they cross the lake on 9/28.” (09/26/2022)
Then on the next day, Darlene counted an estimated 5600 monarchs in various roost locations: “Same roosts…locations as last two evenings, south of Sparrow Field and Tip shuttle stop & east side seen from beach. Had a count of about 2600…until around 6pm when many witnessed a sudden arrival of monarchs over treetops. They flew to & joined established clusters doubling the earlier count. Monarchs roosted in Hackberry, basswood trees & Virginia creeper from 5’ up to 50’ high, all in sheltered areas. South of Sparrow Field they were on east sides of trees. Shuttle stop they were on south sides of trees & on east beach they roosted on east side of trees.” (09/27/2022)
Elizabeth in Port Rowan, ON estimated over 1000 roosting in nearby trees. (09/22/2022)
Along Lake Ontario
Thomas in Newcastle, ON: “Saw at least 300 monarchs today in 1 hour flying west along the waterfront and clustering in roosts. Most monarchs all year, numbers were staggering.” (09/14/2022)
Along Lake Heron
Nicole in East Tawas, MI: “I saw 3 different groups [totally about 100 monarchs]…plus more landing.” (09/22/2022)
Central Flyway: Tale of Two Wichitas: Kansas and Texas
Gary in Wichita, KS: “Estimated roost size of 50. Saw them there singly or in small groups. Temperature around 60 degrees. Little to no wind.
Picture taken at approx. 7:30 AM.” (09/24/2022)
Lynn in Wichita Falls, TX: “Saw a roost of 100 or more in the hackberry, willow, wooded area along the chat trail in Lake Wichita park. Wonderful sight!!!” (09/27/2022)
Peak Migration Events
Peak migration events were largely concentrated in the Midwest and along the Atlantic coast. Many observers are worried about the impact of severe weather events.
Atlantic Coast Migration Happenings
Bob in Cape May Point, NJ: “Migration is underway here at Cape May point NJ. At least 4 roosts were sighted Sunday night/Monday morning, the largest was reported to be 600+ monarchs. There is growing concern about the hurricane off the Gulf Coast of Fl. The NJ monarchs will have to fly through it on their way to Mexico if current predictions hold.” (09/26/2022)
Barbara in West Gilgo Beach, NY: “On a partly cloudy afternoon with temps in the low 60’s and a strong SW @ 25 mph I spotted 93 monarchs from 12-4 pm. Around 4 pm the clues moved in and the sky got dark, within 2 hours we had rain storms that continued throughout the night.” (09/25/2022)
James in Rule, TX: “Estimated 100 but actual count is probably much higher. A cold front moved through yesterday (09/25) with continued northerly winds though this morning. Was out for about 15 minutes and was able to count 100 or more in that time. I was able to identify them as they flew over. I was making sure because we have had quite a number of smaller Queen Butterflies in the area over the past few days….I counted the number of butterflies in a given time that fly through the area and usually multiply by two to account for the front yard also, especially when there are a large number as there was today. I normally count for 10 to 15 minutes. Picture is of my “counting site”. Most of the Monarchs through the day were flying between “head high” to the top of the trees, say 30 feet or so. All have been flying south with the breeze, which has been consistent at about 10-15 mph from the northeast through the day. Very few stopped on what few flowers I have. The local drought is much worse than even a few miles to our north and south where much more precipitation has fallen; and where there are many more flowers. When I put the sprinkler on in the front yard this afternoon, seemed like every butterfly around came to “play” in the spray. A further note - All of the butterflies I’ve see these past few days; Monarchs and Queens, all look quite healthy and strong.(09/26/2022)
Moving into Mexico
Adriana in Monterrey, N.L.: “100. Migración. En conjunto.” (09/25/2022)