Monarch Watch Blog

Monarch Population Status

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009 at 2:56 pm by Chip Taylor
Filed under Monarch Population Status | 18 Comments »

cluster of monarchsThe number of migrating monarchs this fall should be similar to those observed in each of the last three years and the total area occupied by monarchs at the overwintering sites in Mexico should once again be close to five (5) hectares.

The last two strong migrations in recent history occurred in 2005 and 2003. It appears that strong monarch migrations occur when the temperatures and rainfall are favorable during the breeding season, including the two periods of migration in the spring and early summer.

This year, the temperatures were a bit higher than normal during the March–April period but perhaps more important were the conditions during the period from late April through mid June. Temperatures in May and June were below normal in many areas, and Minnesota (one of the big production areas for monarchs) experienced below normal rainfall and moderate drought conditions. Overall, the production of monarchs in the south appears to have been moderate, followed by conditions that limited the numbers and reproductive success of the monarchs reaching the northern breeding areas.

Nevertheless, if you have been tagging over the last three years, you should expect to see and be able to tag a reasonable number of monarchs this fall.

Stay tuned for updates as the season progresses…

  1. 18 Responses to “Monarch Population Status”

  2. By cathy millington on Jul 23, 2009

    summer of 2009 continues to be cool, much rain in May/June. Although my milkweed garden is blooming, there are very few bflies at all, including the monarch. Only one monarch has been sighted in my garden, very, very few eggs found on milkweed. Temperatures in northern NJ haven’t exceeded 90 degrees thus far and are not expected for the rest of the summer. Here’s hoping Mother Nature helps out this beautiful creature ….

  3. By barbara myers on Aug 2, 2009

    The monarch (1 that I saw) came to our milkweed in Charlotte NC 8/9/08- that seems late. I have not seen any yet this year but am watching.

  4. By marsha samson on Aug 3, 2009

    We have seen only a few monarch butterflies and no caterpillars on our milkweed yet in north central North Dakota. We had a very cold June and July’s temperatures have been cooler that normal – many days with strong northwest winds. No hopes for tagging again this year

  5. By Audrey Brainard on Aug 4, 2009

    I have lots of milkweed that has bloomed but only one Monarch had been seen. A regular search for eggs has produced none. This year there are less of all butterflies than in the past. The weather has been wet and cooler than usual. In VA we can expect to see Monarchs until November but I am not sure there will be many tender milkweeds around to entice egg laying.

  6. By elona charbonnet on Aug 9, 2009

    I saw a female feeding in my garden in Memphis, TN. just a few days ago. She was tattered and did not lay eggs. I have lots of milkweed, and even the plants in our school’s milkweed garden have somehow recovered from a spring where we did not see ANY milkweed in the that garden.

  7. By Jan Hamilton on Aug 12, 2009

    Here at the library we have been looking for caterpillars each day with no success. A family brought us two small caterpillars last week and they are being closely watched by all the families who frequent the library. Very few Bflies have been spotted in the area.

    We had steady rain in June and most of July so that seems to have decreased the population.

  8. By Denise Brown on Aug 14, 2009

    Have not seen one monarch in Portsmouth NH or anywhere yet this summer.
    Hope they make it up here to my milkweek patch soon. I have lots of flowers waiting for them.

  9. By Denise Brown on Aug 14, 2009

    ps we’ve have the rainiest summer ever
    so must have slowed down the monarch population
    or drowned the little caterpillars.

  10. By annika on Aug 17, 2009

    i live in winnipeg, canada.This summer has been unusally cloudy cold and wet. i have seen one monarch and one black swallow tail butterfly in our yard this no honeybees either. a few bumbles. our garden is loaded with flowering plants for all creatures – including several small chunks of swamp milkweed. last year was nit geat either. waether was better and yet very few caterpillars of either.

  11. By sue poyneer on Aug 18, 2009

    The zinnas, parsley have attracted a small number of monarchs here in Iowa.But my song bird population isn’t what it usually is.

  12. By Tracy Leinbaugh on Aug 25, 2009

    Last year we had only one Monarch, and three caterpillars. This year we have had Monarchs for the past month, with an increase in the last week. We’ve had at least a dozen caterpillars on our milkweed plants. I’m sure I’ve missed some, since the patch is becoming quite large. There are more plants in the surrounding area, too, and I found a caterpillar on a new plant about a quarter mile from our patch. I have been pleasantly surprised this year, since it has been quite rainy where I live in southeastern Ohio.

  13. By Lauren on Aug 30, 2009

    Every year my children look for monarch caterpillars. We usually find 10 or 20 or more. This year we haven’t found one which isn’t surprising given that we’ve seen only 2 or 3 Monarchs all summer. This is a marked decline. Here in Ithaca, the summer has been much cooler than usual.

  14. By Ellen on Sep 6, 2009

    Like everything I’ve been reading above, I have only seen one Monarch in my yard this summer, and I haven’t found any eggs or caterpillars. I’m in the North East and it has been a very rainy and cooler than normal summer. Hopefully next year they will return.

  15. By DEB on Sep 8, 2009

    The Monarch season was slow getting here to MI but once it hit I had about 150 eggs laid on my milkweed. I had several caterpillars die this year – I raise them indoors. I have probably released at least 100 Monarchs. I have 2 chrysalids & 1 going into his left. I usually raise about 300 w/very few dying. It definitely was a different year for them. I do see at least one almost daily in my butterfly garden!

  16. By Larry Bogan on Sep 13, 2009

    Here in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia (Kentville) we have a late Monarch season but this year we have no eggs or caterpillars. We have seen only one Monarch off and on all summer. Last year, we had more than a dozen released by this time and another 20 ready to emerge. We had an excellent crop of common milkweed in our field due to the good rainfall this summer.

  17. By Susan on Sep 22, 2009

    Where are all the butterflies? I’m concerned about seeing only two or three during the summer/fall of 2008 and only a couple now in 2009. We have a half acre habitat with a lot of milkweed, butterfly weed, butterfly bushes, and other butterfly attracting plants. Usually the garden is filled with them. But there’s nothing out there. Could it be due to pesticides? We’re the only ones in the neighborhood that do not have lawn services that come out and spray. That hasn’t made a difference in the past though.

  18. By sue quimby on Sep 27, 2009

    I’m so glad I found this site. I have not seen one single monarch butterfly this 2009 season. We had an extremely rainy spring/early summer w/no sitings on our lilacs. We have 30 acres of fields/woods, milkweed fine, again, no monarchs.
    This coming from Sanbornton, NH. Very sad.
    I read somewhere abt. the genetically modified corn being grown…the pollen has some kind of toxin & it can end up on monarchs food source…another negative for the poor monarchs?

  19. By Madison Peterson on Nov 27, 2009

    We live in Ohio and have had good success with rearing butterflies. We have a stock of about 32 different spicies of the 63 northeastern varieties.We have a manmade pond which gives them the water source they need and this year we put out salt licks with sand and stone pebbles covering them. This was mildly successful (1st year) Heavy rains in the spring effect the hatching of all butterfly species. My 8 year old daughter has been studying the butterfilies with a special interest in the monarch. She has given 3 lectures and is scheduled to give another in the spring.We too raise the chrysalis indoors and are thrilled everytime one of these magnificiant creatures is born.

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