Homeschool, Nature, Outside, Science/Math

Monarch Migration

First I send a big thank you to fellow blogger Mamadestroy for prompting this post and providing the source materials. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

Some of you have been following our adventures as we attempt to grow painted lady butterflies from caterpillars. Our little guys should be making a chrysalis any day now.

Now here’s your chance to get into the butterfly act and become scientists from the comfort of your armchairs without committing to raising caterpillars.

Scientist need your help tracking monarch migration. Each fall, monarchs migrate to Mexico (and some to Southern California) where they spend the winter. Come spring, the females return to the U.S. and lay their eggs on milkweed in the southern U.S. Once the caterpillars hatch into butterflies this new generation continues north for the summer.

Monarch migration is mysterious. The butterflies overwinter in the same forests year after year. Amazingly, these butterflies know where to fly even though no monarch makes the trip to Mexico more than one. Still, logging in Mexico has made monarch migration a “threatened phenomenon” since many of the trees where monarchs spend the winter have been destroyed.

You can help the monarchs. Record sightings of monarch butterflies, eggs and caterpillars, as well as milkweed (their food source)….here. This data helps scientists learn how climate change and other factors affect this butterfly beauty.

The site also has integrated maps of reported sightings…here. The Kids section provides a host of resources, including videos of caterpillars hatching from their eggs and butterflies bursting from their chrysalis. National Geographic Kids also has a wonderful overview of creature including video…here. If you are a teacher or homeschooling parent, these resources would be an excellent accompaniment to a spring unit or caterpillar study.

Have you seen a monarch in your neighborhood? Report it and help scientists learn more about this fascinating creature.

14 thoughts on “Monarch Migration”

  1. This is so cool! (Not that the monarch forest is jeopardy, but the rest of it.) We have monarchs in the summer here in New York, but we also have tons of milkweed within a half-mile radius of our house. I think we’re too far north for the egg-laying part, but maybe I should keep my eye on the milkweed. What does a monarch egg look like?

      1. Susanna, I’m looking at the sighting maps, and I think you are probably too far north for eggs. They generally lay eggs (now) in the south and then the adult butterflies will migrate north all the way to Canada. I see egg sightings as far north as Virginia. I think you might have better look finding the mature butterflies in a few weeks.

  2. So glad that you have such a fabulous venue to share the monarch world with everyone! I grew up with a rabid monarch enthusiast, and, as a city dweller, don’t have much opportunity to bring this sort of experience to my two boys. My dad would be happy to see his passion being passed along via your blog!

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