Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Guest Entry from SE Michigan

Last Saturday you wrote: "One week ago, the Veggie Garden was filled with butterflies – big fat orange and black ones." I'm assuming the monarchs have finally reached your area. The interactive migration map at The Journey North says they were expected in San Diego after Oct. 24.

These were the only butterflies I knew by name as a child in Maryland, back when I could still recognize the milkweed they prize. The photo of them roosting en route is from the TJN site.

When I lived on the Florida Panhandle 30 years (!) ago, and despite the lack of data points on the referenced map today, they arrived en masse in the fall, as if they headed south until reaching the Gulf of Mexico and then turned right. I could not drive along the coastal highway without feeling like a murderer, as they got stuck in my front grill and windshield wipers and crunched under my tires. Honestly, the numbers put one in mind of a biblical plague — although an extraordinarily beautiful and harmless one. That was when I first learned of their epic migration and over-wintering in Mexico.

You, too, can help map their journey, either at the Journey North site above or at Monarch Watch. TJN says, "Large numbers of monarchs have now reached Mexico's overwintering region. By November 2nd, the tops of fifteen trees at the El Rosario sanctuary were covered with monarchs."


Weeping Sore said...

Cool links Martha. I never know if Monarchs are yellow and black (like you pictures and I recently saw) or orange and black like I remember them from childhood.
Either way, they are pretty cool.
I read somewhere that scientists posited that the jog they take about Ohio (instead of going directly down the eastern seaboard) is to avoid prehistoric glaciers, but since it's programmed into their DNA, they haven't noticed that the glaciers are gone.

Martha in Michigan said...

The ones I see are more orange, although the photos from the Mexican roosting grounds show a range of colors from yellow to orange.

It could be that you saw another migratory butterfly, the Painted Lady, which is common on the West Coast. Check out the slide show at http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/monarch/sl/8/0.html to compare them (and other look-alikes).

Weeping Sore said...

I LOVE your picture! It could be a poster warning people of the dangers of cooking meth on the stove-top. Poor Beaker.

guild-rez said...
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Frances said...

How delightful to see so many at once, but it would hurt my heart for them to be caught on the windshield of the car. We once saw them massing at the edge of Lake Erie on the Canada side, getting ready to cross in September, biblical is the right word.

Frances at Fairegarden