Monarch Watch Blog

Spring is Coming!

Friday, February 29th, 2008 at 5:26 pm by Jim
Filed under Degree Days, Monarch Tagging, Monarch Waystations | 5 Comments »

Spring is coming and so are the monarchs. As the temperatures increase at the overwintering sites in Mexico from the low 60s in January to the high 60s and low 70s in early February monarch activity increases. The butterflies begin mating close to the 14th of February and shortly thereafter a few begin trickling northward with the largest numbers leaving the overwintering sites in the first two weeks of March. Worn monarchs, presumably from the overwintering sites, are reported in inland Texas toward the end of the first week in March each year. So, it won’t be long before monarchs start another breeding cycle.

We have big plans for this season and we need your help on several projects:


We need to increase the number of registered Monarch Waystations by at least 1,000. There are now 1,871 registered habitats in the Monarch Waystation Registry and this number needs to grow given that we are losing 2.2 million acres of habitat per year due to development. As we’ve said before, we need you to help us market this program. Please show your Monarch Waystations to others and direct people to our web site. Your efforts will help educate the public of the need to protect habitats for monarchs and other wildlife.


We need your to help us track the phenology (seasonal progression) of milkweeds and nectar plants. We will have a series of announcements describing how you can participate in this program in the coming weeks.


Please report the first monarch you see this spring. We need a larger number of observations of first monarchs to determine how well the spring migration is synchronized with the growth phases of the milkweeds.


In future articles we will demonstrate how to record growing degree days for both milkweeds and monarchs in our Monarch Waystation. We hope that these demonstrations will encourage more of you to use these simple devices to learn more about the relationships between temperature and growth and development.


Another tagging season will be here soon but it is not too soon to urge you to order your tags now. Again, we will limit the number of tags to 200,000 and once these are gone, they’re gone. So, do order early to avoid being disappointed.

Tagging Kits and other materials are available via the Monarch Watch Shop online at

  1. 5 Responses to “Spring is Coming!”

  2. By Bonnie Ford on Mar 3, 2008

    I live in Houston, Texas and I started seeing a few Monarchs about a week ago. I saw several this weekend hanging out around the milkweed. The Monarchs I saw are pretty faded looking, a bit on the raggedy side.

    The milkweed is not quite ready for an onslaught. It needs a few more weeks and it will feed a lot of caterpillars.

  3. By suzanne miranda on Mar 4, 2008

    We had at least one monarch in our yard a few weeks ago. There are a few catepillars on 2 of our 3 milkweed plants right now. The plants were purchased at a local nursery in early Feb. We live in Apopka FL, about 15 miles NW of Orlando. Temps are fluctuating, but generally are in the mid-70s during the day.

  4. By Albert Eurs on Apr 27, 2008

    Monarchs in my area in Orange County, CA began to arrive the week of April 21st. I have seen upwards of five Monarchs pass through my yard at different times. I’m away at work 95% of the the time during the day so I’m sure more have passed through. I saw a mating pair in my front yard yesterday, April 26th. Last weekend I was down in Palm Desert (next to Palm Springs) about 130 miles south and I saw saw several Monarchs and Queens. I knew it wouldn’t be long until they reached here.

  5. By Maureen Cullnan on May 5, 2008

    Monday, May 5.
    Common milkweed have just sprouted in my Chicago backyard — 3″ tall. No Monarchs yet. Lilacs budded out but not blooming yet. I will be planting alyssum soon to help tide them over when they arrive.

  6. By Irwin H. Cohen on Mar 7, 2009

    March 7, 2009 It’s an early Spring in Denver CO this year, some days in the 70’s, but nights vary and some freezing or below. Tulips and Daffodils are coming up. Very little moisture on the plains here, but mtns have had over average snowfall. A strange winter and spring so far. Last year had two Monarchs in August on Marigolds, Many Painted Ladies. We are just east of the foothills, 5280 ft.

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