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Monarch Butterfly Migration Update: March 28, 2001

Today's Report Includes:

Field Notes from Along the Migration Trail

Monarch Migration Map
as of March 28, 2001

The leading edge of the migration fanned out across Texas during the last week. Monarchs now extend as far west as Midland, as far north as Waco and Fort Worth, and to the east, we received the first sightings from River Bend, TX and Sulphur, LA.

Here are comments from some of the observers:

03/23/01 Klein, TX (30.03N, -95.53 W)
Students at Krahn Elementary saw their first monarch during recess last Friday. "We were very excited to see a faded monarch fly across our playground. We can't wait to observe eggs on the milkweed in our butterfly garden and watch the entire life cycle. Observers up north get ready ---Here they come!" exclaimed teacher Patty Perkins

03/24/01 Caldwell, TX (30.54N, -96.72 W)
Further to the west in Caldwell, Texas, St. Joseph Elementary saw their first two monarchs on March 24th---and evidence that female monarchs had stopped by. "We found our first monarch eggs this afternoon. Only about four of them were found, each placed on individual milkweed plants; as opposed to last year when several were found on the same plants."

03/26/01 San Antonio, TX (29.46N, -98.53 W)
Ever since February 26th, the seventh grade students at the Texas Military Institute have been monitoring their milkweed. This Monday, they finally found monarch eggs. Ten eggs were seen on 4 Asclepias curassavica (Tropical milkweed) plants in their school butterfly garden!

Female Egg-Laying Strategy
The appearance of multiple eggs on a single plant is known as "egg loading." Observers should watch for this whenever they check their milkweed plants, and report these observations with their comments. Monarchs usually lay only one egg per plant, so egg loading is thought to occur when there is not enough milkweed in an area. What do you suppose the female monarch's strategy is?

Challenge Question #16:
"Why do you think female monarchs avoid laying more than one egg on a milkweed plant?"

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

Egg Loading
Don't expect to see milkweed with more than one egg per leaf. This monarch layed eggs in captivity, so deposited many on a single leaf.

Photo by Karen Obserhauser

Milkweed Emerging on the Migration Trail
This map shows where observers have reported milkweed emerging so far this spring:

Please report the FIRST MILKWEED to Emerge This Spring!

As the map shows, we need more observers! Please help us monitor the spring emergence of the monarch's food plant across North America.

Predicting the Route of the Monarch's Spring Migration
As the monarchs pour out of Mexico this spring, we're watching them spread across Texas. Where do you think they will appear next? New Mexico? Oklahoma? Arkansas? Louisiana? (You might be surprised!)

Print out the blank migration map below and draw the course you think the migration will take. Then record the names of the states where you think the butterflies will appear 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th etc. on your Migration Route Prediction Chart.

Links to:

Challenge Question #17:
"Send your list of the 15 states where you think the monarchs will appear next. Why do you think the monarch migration will arrive in the states in the order that you predicted? Explain your reasoning!"

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

As the migration progresses each week, record the order in which the butterflies actually arrived in each state. (Use the right-hand column of your chart.) Periodically revisit your prediction. At the end of the season, describe the migration pattern and try to explain why the butterflies traveled when and where they did.

This Week's Migration Update for Sanctuary Area Students
As the butterflies fly over your homes, schools and cities, we're sending the news back to the students in Mexico so they can track the migration too. Here is this week's report in Spanish, with an English translation:

"It is important to continue a friendship with students who see the same butterflies that travel from one backyard to another, thousands of miles away," said Seruando Nieto Gomez, teacher at Lazaro Cardenas Primary School.

Try Journey North's New GIS Map Server
Now you can explore monarch migration with interactive maps using data from the past five seasons (1997-2001). Warning: A fast Internet connection--and patience--are important when using the GIS map server. It's a wonderful system, but it can be very slow, especially over school networks with multiple computers. We hope you'll enjoy it!

How to Respond to Today's Monarch Challenge Questions:

IMPORTANT: Answer only ONE question in each e-mail message.

1. Address an e-mail message to:
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #16 (or #17)
3. In the body of the EACH message, answer ONE of the questions above.

The Next Monarch Migration Update Will Be Posted on April 4, 2001.

Copyright 2001 Journey North. All Rights Reserved. Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to our feedback form

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