This just in from Monarch Watch (see report below). It will be interesting to see what we find through our butterfly count this Saturday and compare it to previous years. I’ve only had a couple of encounters with Monarchs this year and I’ve been looking! Our intern, Erin Snook, took this great shot of a Monarch caterpillar at Banshee earlier this season.
The 2009-2010 overwintering monarch population in Mexico covered a forest area of only 1.92 hectares. This figure represents an all time low for overwintering monarchs and is well below the long-term average of 7.44 hectares (1994-2010).
We worried about these low numbers because of the possibility that a devastating storm could drive the population even lower. And then it happenedŠa storm of the worst possible dimensions hit the overwintering area starting on 2 February.
Accounts of the flooding and landslides can be found on the Monarch Watch Blog at
Attempts to find out how the monarchs fared following these winter storms were unsatisfactory. We estimated that at least 50% of the monarchs died during the winter months, recognizing that this value could have been low.
Fortunately, the conditions encountered by the monarchs that reached Texas were favorable. The result, in spite of the low number of returning monarchs, was a substantial first generation.
These butterflies colonized much of the northern breeding area from late April to mid-June.
It appears that the monarchs are making a modest recovery and we expect the overwintering population will measure close to 3 hectares.
For a more detailed status and updates throughout the season please visit the Monarch Watch Blog at http://monarchwatch.org/blog/