Reading the Tea Leaves — the Monarch Migration
Dr. Chip Taylor, Director of Monarch Watch, based in Kansas, sent over this note earlier in the week. In it he provides some great insights into understanding the Monarch migration and how it’s unfolding. Our latitude is 39N so our sightings are really important in reading the tea leaves:
The progression of monarchs northward has been slower than normal due to the cold weather*. (We had frost on the deck and on the car windows this morning – unprecedented!) A warming trend is projected to begin on Tues and that may save the season, especially if monarchs arrive in the northern breeding areas in good numbers before the end of the month.
If the arrivals are few or mostly delayed until the first 10 days of June, the chances that the population will increase this year will be greatly diminished.
I’ll be watching Journey North very closely for the next 22 days. I wish I could say there are a lot of monarchs waiting to move north but there is no way to tell what’s out there at this time.”
Monarchs need to arrive north of 40N in good numbers before the end of May for the population to have any chance of rebounding. To date (late on the 19th) only 17 (or so) monarchs have been sighted north of 40. Last year – a year in which the population declined (for the third year in a row) – there were about twice the number sighted north of 40 by this date.
If you go back through the records of first sightings as of the 23 of May for each year, you will see a sharp contrast between this year and years past.
There is hope as mentioned in the first paragraph but with each passing day with few sightings the prospects for a recovery become slimmer.
Watch the temps, the wind map and the first sightings reported to JN to get a sense of how monarchs will do in your area in the coming months. If the majority of first sightings over the nest 3-4 weeks occur in June, we can expect another late migration.
Please report your Monarch sightings to Journey North — your data is so important! Here is the link: