Monarch Watch Blog

Monarch Watch Update August 2023

Friday, August 18th, 2023 at 5:40 pm by Jim Lovett
Filed under Email Updates | Comments Off on Monarch Watch Update August 2023

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Greetings Monarch Watchers!
As we’ve mentioned before, the number of communications we receive can be overwhelming at times, so we ask for your patience if you are waiting for a response – we are not always able to respond in a timely manner but we do try to address every email, voicemail and letter we receive. We love to hear from you but please be sure to check out all of the information we have online via our Website, Blog, Facebook page, etc. before contacting us with questions. THANK YOU! 🙂

Included in this issue:
1. Chip in for Monarch Watch
2. Monarch Population Status
3. Upcoming Monarch Watch Events
4. Monarch Watch Tagging Kits
5. Submitting Tag Data
6. Send us your photos, videos, stories, and more!
7. Monarch Waystations
8. About This Monarch Watch List

1. Chip in for Monarch Watch

The 2023 Chip in for Monarch Watch fundraising campaign is now underway! If you are in a position to offer financial support to Monarch Watch, please consider making a donation of any amount during our fall campaign.

This annual fundraising campaign was created in honor of our director and founder, Chip Taylor (whose birthday happens to be at the end of August, by the way). This campaign offers a chance for Monarch Watchers, colleagues, friends, and family across the planet to show their support for Chip and the monarch program he brought to life more than three decades ago. It has provided tremendous support for Monarch Watch over the years, through both monetary contributions and kind words. As you may recall, Chip recently announced that he will be stepping down as the director of Monarch Watch later this year, which makes this campaign even more special.

This year we have moved the fundraiser to a new platform provided by KU Endowment (they manage all of our donations, no matter how you give) and you can now see the number of gifts and how much has been raised in real time. There is also a donor wall (you can opt out of this or remain anonymous) and a heat map to give an idea of where donations are coming from. Very cool!

We encourage you to spend a little time on the Chip in for Monarch Watch page at – the connections that are facilitated by monarchs and Monarch Watch are truly extraordinary.

As always, there is also a link to a form where you can submit your comments, thanks, birthday wishes, photos, etc. We will compile these and present them to Chip at the end of the campaign – and try to share many of them with you as well.

Donating securely online is easy but if you would rather make a donation by phone or mail, complete details may be found at

Please share this campaign via social media or other means to reach anyone you think may be interested in donating to Monarch Watch and thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU for your continued support!

Chip in for Monarch Watch:

2. Monarch Population Status

Eastern Monarch Population
Here, in bullet form, is what I think I know about this migration:

1) The migration is underway at the most northerly latitudes having started at 50N and a bit further north sometime after the 5th of August.

2) Pre-migration roosting has been reported to Journey North before the solar angle at solar noon (SASN) drops below 57 degrees, the date at each latitude, when we can first expect to see directional flight indicative of the migration.

3) Good numbers of monarchs should reach the Twin Cities around 23-26 August.

4) North of 35N (Oklahoma City), the migration should proceed at a pace that roughly follows the declining angle of the sun unless the September temperatures across the latitudes are substantially above the long-term average. If temperatures are extremely high (>86F but mostly in the 90s) the pace of the migration will be slowed.

5) A drought is developing south of 35N and unless there are several inches of rain between now and early October, nectar will be scarce as monarchs pass through southern OK and TX and perhaps northeastern Mexico. The drought effects on nectar production are difficult to unravel. Droughts early in the growing season can stunt plants such that nectar production can be limited even if there is adequate rainfall later in the season. The key to fall nectar secretion in this region appears to be the amount of rainfall that has occurred in the 8-12 weeks before the migration arrives. It’s the conditions during that interval that determine floral development for many flowering plants. Therefore, it’s the soil moisture during this period of development and not during the migration that largely determines nectar secretion – and the soil moisture is determined by the precipitation in the month or two prior to the passage of the migration and less so, or not at all, during the migration. In other words, if the soil moisture is adequate there can be an abundance of nectar in the absence of rainfall during the migration. I checked for rain in Texas and none is expected through the 21st (See blog post for photos by Chuck Patterson, Driftwood, TX).

6) The first sightings in Texas in March and April were relatively low suggesting that the population was off to a poor start. Following that, the colonization of the summer breeding range north of 40N (1May through 9 June), while fairly good for Minnesota and Wisconsin and terrific for the prairie provinces (see Monarchs: Reaching 50N and beyond), seemed to involve modest to low numbers of monarchs with many arriving late, particularly in eastern Ontario. Yet, as I write this update, the number of monarchs reported to Journey North from 1May to 9 August (1893) is virtually the same as the number for the same period in 2022 (1913), a year with better early and later first sighting numbers.

7) Putting it all together, the migration through the Midwest, from 90W to 100W should be similar in size to the migrations of the last three years while the migration from 65W (Maritimes) to 90W (mid-Michigan) will be somewhat lower this year.

Western Monarch Population
There is really not much to report for the West. I couldn’t find anything in the records for iNaturalist or Journey North that indicated that the numbers during the Thanksgiving Counts would be as high or lower than last year. The records are really too few to fit my purposes. Still, there were hints in the NW that monarchs had returned to the breeding areas in good numbers. Again, as in Manitoba to the east, due to warm May and early June temperatures, there was greater recolonization of British Columbia and Alberta than had been seen in many years. Aside for reports from the greater Salt Lake City area, the areas to the east of California have been silent and much of Nevada and Arizona has been too hot to sustain good numbers of monarchs.

Monarch production along the California coast got off to a slow start due to the colder and wetter conditions in June. More recently, the numbers increased significantly along with the incidence of predators and parasites. Yet, there is still the prospect that monarch production in the southern counties will contribute substantially to the overwintering numbers – or not. There seem to be two schools of thought about the monarchs in southern California, one proposes that the population is non-migratory and the other maintains that these monarchs migrate north in late October and November to join other overwintering clusters. In summary, it appears that the numbers along the coast in the late fall and winter will be lower than last year for sure and possibly lower than the 247K recorded in 2021.

For a more detailed discussion, please see the complete Monarch Population Status article posted to the Monarch Watch Blog at

3. Upcoming Monarch Watch Events

Chip in for Monarch Watch
Annual Fundraising Event in honor of Chip

Monarch Watch Fall Open House (Free event)
Saturday, September 16, 2023
Monarch Watch
Lawrence, Kansas

Monarch Watch Tagging Event (Free event)
Saturday, September 23, 2023
Baker Wetlands Discovery Center
Lawrence, Kansas

4. Monarch Watch Tagging Kits

Tags for the 2023 fall tagging season are available and the migration is underway. If you would like to tag monarchs this year, please order your tags soon! Tagging Kits ordered now should arrive within 10–14 days but priority will be given to areas that will experience the migration first.

Monarch Watch Tagging Kits are only shipped to areas east of the Rocky Mountains. Each tagging kit includes a set of specially manufactured monarch butterfly tags (you specify quantity), a data sheet, tagging instructions, and additional monarch / migration information. Tagging Kits for the 2023 season start at only $15 and include your choice of 25, 50, 100, 200, or 500 tags.

Monarch Watch Tagging Kits and other materials (don’t forget a net!) are available via the Monarch Watch Shop online at – where each purchase helps support Monarch Watch.

2023 datasheets and instructions are available online via the Monarch Tagging Program page at

Tagging should begin in early to mid-August north of 45N latitude (e.g., Minneapolis), late August at other locations north of 35N (e.g., Oklahoma City, Fort Smith, Memphis, Charlotte) and in September and early October in areas south of 35N latitude. See a map and tables with expected peak migration dates and suggested dates to begin tagging on the Monarch Tagging Program page at the link above.

5. Submitting Tag Data

Thousands of you submitted your 2022 season tag data to us via mail, our online submission form, or our mobile app – thank you! We are still receiving data and if you haven’t submitted yours yet (for 2022 or even previous years) it is not too late. Please review the “Submitting Your Tagging Data” information on the Tagging Program page at

We have conveniently placed a large “Submit Your Tagging Data” button on our homepage that will take you directly to the online form. There you can upload your data sheets as an Excel or other spreadsheet file (PREFERRED; download a template file from ) or a PDF/image file (scan or photo). You may also record and submit your data via the Monarch Watch mobile app (iOS & Android).

If you have any questions about getting your data to us, please feel free to drop Jim a line anytime via JLOVETT@KU.EDU

6. Send us your photos, videos, stories, and more!

We are always looking for monarch photos, videos, stories and more for use on our website, on our social media accounts, in our publications, and as a part of other promotional and educational items we distribute online and offline to promote monarch conservation and Monarch Watch.

There are several ways you can send us your favorite files (please only submit your own materials) and all of the methods below are accessible via

1. Main submission form at
This is the form we prefer you use as it is the most comprehensive and allows you to provide complete information.

2. Quick uploader for photos and videos at
Note that this method does not allow you to include contact or other information.

3. If you have issues using either of the tools above you may also email your submission to us at but please include everything we ask for on the main form by copying/pasting the information below into your email message (or use it as a guide).

Email address:
Do you want to be credited when we use your materials, when feasible?
Name as you would like it to appear in credit:
Description of materials or other comments (for photos and videos this should include an approximate date of capture and location):

Please note that by sharing materials with Monarch Watch you agree to the statements provided at regarding their origin and use. Thank you!

7. Monarch Waystations

To offset the loss of milkweeds and nectar sources we need to create, conserve, and protect monarch butterfly habitats. You can help by creating “Monarch Waystations” in home gardens, at schools, businesses, parks, zoos, nature centers, along roadsides, and on other unused plots of land. Creating a Monarch Waystation can be as simple as adding milkweeds and nectar sources to existing gardens or maintaining natural habitats with milkweeds. No effort is too small to have a positive impact.

Have you created a habitat for monarchs and other wildlife? If so, help support our conservation efforts by registering your habitat as an official Monarch Waystation today!

Monarch Waystation Program:

A quick online application will register your site and your habitat will be added to the online registry. You will receive a certificate bearing your name and your habitat’s ID that can be used to look up its record. You may also choose to purchase a metal sign to display in your habitat to encourage others to get involved in monarch conservation.

As of 16 August 2023, there have been 45,002 Monarch Waystation habitats registered with Monarch Watch! Texas holds the #1 spot with 3,690 habitats and Illinois (3,460), Michigan (3,288), California (2,904), Ohio (2,334), Florida (2,329), Pennsylvania (2,007), Wisconsin (1,960), Virginia (1,939), and New York (1,493) round out the top ten.

You can view the complete listing and a map of approximate locations via

8. About This Monarch Watch List

Monarch Watch ( ) is a nonprofit education, conservation, and research program affiliated with the Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research at the University of Kansas. The program strives to provide the public with information about the biology of monarch butterflies, their spectacular migration, and how to use monarchs to further science education in primary and secondary schools. Monarch Watch engages in research on monarch migration biology and monarch population dynamics to better understand how to conserve the monarch migration and also promotes the protection of monarch habitats throughout North America.

We rely on private contributions to support the program and we need your help! Please consider making a tax-deductible donation. Complete details are available at or you can simply call 785-832-7386 (KU Endowment Association) for more information about giving to Monarch Watch.

If you have any questions about this email or any of our programs, please feel free to contact us anytime.

Thank you for your continued interest and support!

Jim Lovett
Monarch Watch

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