Monarch Butterfly & Milkweed Project

 

Volunteers helping to track monarch butterfly migration and milkweed phenology across North America. 

 

Seasonal Message: Fall Migration Begins in August 

Researchers, land managers, and many others rely on the help of Journey North volunteers to better understand the monarch’s conservation needs. Your observations make a valuable contribution — and help tell the dramatic story of the monarch migration. 

What To Report

1. Reporting category: Monarch Adult Sighted

Where are monarchs? Report all monarch adults (ie. butterflies, not eggs or larvae) regardless of whether migrating south. Report number of monarchs observed at a single location. Comments: Were the monarchs exhibiting directional flight? How did you estimate the number of monarchs observed? Other behaviors observed? Frequency: Report once a week when monarchs are present. Photos: Always welcome. 

2. Reporting category: Monarch Egg Sighted

Is breeding happening? Report the presence of monarch egg(s). Because it is difficult to track individual eggs and larvae, daily counts of eggs and larvae are not necessary. Noting presence of monarch egg(s) is sufficient. If you want to count monarch egg(s), please count once during the week and submit one report with the totals counted that day. Comments: What milkweed species did you see the monarch egg(s)? Frequency: Report once a week when monarch eggs are present. Photos: Always welcome. 

3. Reporting category: Monarch Larva Sighted

Is breeding happening? Report the presence of monarch larvae. Because it is difficult to track individual eggs and larvae, daily counts of egg(s) and larvae are not necessary. Noting presence of monarch larvae is sufficient. If you want to count monarch larvae, please count once during the week and submit one report with the totals counted that day. Comments: What milkweed species did you see the monarch larvae? Frequency: Report once a week when monarch larvae are present. Photos: Always welcome. 

4. Reporting category: Monarch Other Observations

Where are monarchs? Observations of other interesting behaviors including mating, laying eggs, nectaring (please let us know plant species observed if known), basking in the sun, and deceased monarchs. Frequency: Report once a week. Occasional reporting welcome. Photos: Always welcome. 

5. Reporting category: Milkweed Sighted

Where is milkweed? Report milkweed presence across the landscape. Comments: What milkweed species did you observe? Frequency: Report weekly when milkweed is present. Photos: Always welcome. 

6. Reporting category: Monarch Peak Migration

When and where are peak migration events happening? Monarch fall migration is spectacular and also unpredictable. People often report seeing large numbers of monarchs flying in a clear directional flight or seeing “hundreds of butterflies” nectaring in a field of flowers fueling up for the long flight. If you witness what seems to be a large number of monarchs for your area (i.e. dozens, hundreds), please report this sighting under PEAK Migration. Comments: For reported numbers to be meaningful, what is the length of time you spent counting monarchs at one stationary location? Frequency: Report daily when possible to capture actual peak. Photos: Always welcome. 

7. Reporting category: Monarch Roosts

When and where are monarch roosts? Migrating monarchs cluster together in trees at night, forming what is called a roost. A roost may have a handful of butterflies or more than you can count. Comments: How many monarchs did you observe within a roost for a single night? When did you observe roost formation? How did you estimate the number of monarchs roosting? What other observations did you notice (such as nearby nectar sources, species of tree(s) in roost, and whether the monarchs are shielded from the wind in their location)? Frequency: Report every night when roost is present. Resource: Estimating Fall Roost Size.

Subscription Information: Migration News

Stay attuned to the migration story by subscribing to Journey North Monarchs & Milkweed News Updates. Click the “subscribe” button in the top-right corner of any published news update.

During the fall, catch the news about fall monarch roosts and peak migration events. Learn when the Eastern population of monarchs reach the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico and the Western population reaches sanctuaries along the coast of California. These news updates will be delivered to you twice a month. 

Of Note

Because migratory species start their fall migration in August, the Journey North reporting categories and interactive maps are now primed to showcase the fall migration phenomenon. You can still view Journey North spring migration observational reports displayed on our interactive maps by following these simple instructions.   

Instructions for viewing spring migration maps 

Step 1: Go to Journey North Maps. Notice that these maps are set to display Fall 2022 migration data. 

fall maps set for fall 2022

 

 

Step 2: Use the seasonal dropdown menu to select Spring 2022 migration season (or any previous season/year of interest).   

spring 2022 migration maps

 

 

You will now be able to select the map of interest.

 

Thank you!

 

Migration News Fall 2022

Watch the season’s story unfold.