Monarch (OTHER Observations)

Date: 02/06/2018

Number: 1

There is absolutely nothing for a Monarch, or any butterfly, to eat. I have never seen a Monarch in early February. There was just one and it appeared very lost. I have no idea of what it can eat or a place to shelter for the next 2 months of should be freezing weather and snow storms.

I was standing at the kitchen window doing some dishes. I looked up and a Monarch flew from out of my view beside the house, about 5 feet away a first look and flying basically directly away, over a hedge and was in sight for about 50 feet, 4 or 5 seconds or so before it went behind other an empty church parking lot.

The winds were strong from the south. I grew up in Ohio where Monarchs were the most common large butterfly. In Utah there is a small orange butterfly in midsummer that does not look or fly like a monarch. There are no similar butterflies at any season here much less in the beginning of February. In a normal year I might see a dozen monarchs around the entire summer. This single butterfly was a full sized monarch. It was the size of a monarch. It was the colors of a monarch and it flew very distinctively as a monarch flies. Getting a picture was not possible. It was rapidly out of sight. It was being blown and flying to the north. The first pussy willows were starting to bloom (more than a month early, the tulip leaves are coming up, more than a month early. The milkweed is all just last year's dried out stalks and leaves, nothing coming up yet. There are no plants up, no leaves, no flowers.Nothing at all to eat for a butterfly. I am 100% confident I saw a monarch. I have good eyes 20/20. There are no monarch look-alikes here in Utah that I have ever seen. And in any case, where would any kind of butterfly come from at this time of year?. April is early to see them around here. I would have said early February is impossible.. The most common large butterfly we have here are tiger swallowtail which hang around all summer and feed on the many flowers we have and is completely different color.
I have no doubt that it was a monarch. I know it is weird, which made it all the more important to report it. I walked around after it went out of sight but never spotted it again.

Behind the house are our gardens and in season has an abundance of flowers all summer. Next to that is a golf course. The only school around here is a middle school more than half a mile to the north of us in the direction the butterfly was going with the wind. The Monarch came from the direction of our main garden where there are several clumps of milkweed. There could have been a chrysalis though I hadn't seen one and a couple of clumps are across the stream and I hadn't inspected them. They are rare enough that I have never see a child who has found or collected one, and I had 3 kids. In Ohio, several kids in every class would fine some and so they were common at the schools. My kids never saw any at all in school.

It had been warm for the previous weeks, back to the only snow storm we have had this year and all melted in 2 days,warm to the extent that we will probably loose the apricots, plums and maybe cherries this year as all the buds are very early and we can have fruit blossom killing freezes into May. We have a 15 foot tall fence by our drive to stop golf balls. It has a dense vertical growth of vines, several feet thick and hundreds of birds shelter in there during the winter. The stream behind the house is Bingham creek and it provides a protected (from wind) gully running 15 miles going southwest to the mountains. Where I saw it was within 50 feet of the creek.which also runs behind the church.

West Jordan, UT

Latitude: 40.6 Longitude: -112

Observed by: Fred
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