The Monarch Alliance News

January 2018 Newsletter

THE MIGRATION:  Things are pretty much settled in the Mexican sanctuaries.  During the last week of October, the monarchs started showing up and by the end of the first week in December, the migration was pretty much over.  That’s just a six week period.  The migration is like a tidal wave beginning in Canada after mid-August and moving progressively south, taking about a month over each latitude.  The migration moves at about 25 miles a day.


The migration east of the Appalachians was not robust this year.  Cooler than normal temperatures in August, slowed development, while warmer weather during September/October slowed the migration.  The migration is never early, but it can be later, and this year, it was later than normal.


When the migration reaches Mexico in late October, early November, the monarchs are generally on the move, going from roost to roost.  They begin forming loose roosts, leave and reform roosts in other parts of the sanctuaries. By the end of November, they are forming more stable roosts and by early December, are relatively stationary in tight roosts, allowing the census to begin.


They will stay put until February, when they may leave their roosts to find water, mate and return.  In late February, some may leave to begin their annual migration.  Last year if I recall, there were still some monarchs on roosts until early April.


So now is a quiet time in the sanctuaries.


WHAT HAVE WE BEEN UP TO?  I always hope things will slow down to a trickle this time of year, but they have not.


--As some of you know, I went to the Monarch Joint Venture annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas in early November.  The organization is increasing membership quickly and is up to over 75 members.  Lots of good information and contacts.


--Chip Taylor has put together a zoom program for the Monarch Watch Conservation Specialists to discuss monarch issues.  We had our first program in December.


--Have engaged with a group in West Virginia that will be putting on a monarch conservation conference in early March.  I’ve been asked to give a 20-minute talk on The Monarch Alliance.  Jim Jenkins, the science teacher from North Jefferson Elementary School will also be attending.


--Monarch habitat at North Jefferson Elementary School.  Jim Jenkins continues to work on converting an 80X40 foot area into monarch habitat, in addition to the school’s Monarch Waystation.  I continue to work with his kids in our Junior Monarch Alliance Program.


--Met with Sunny Meadows Garden Center in Sharpsburg and discussed a plant list for our spring Milkweed and Native Plant Sale.  We chose May 19 as our sale date.  Will be talking to them this week about which plants he can get for us.


--Had a number of meetings with Bester Community of Hope regarding plans to plant monarch habitat in the four storm water drainage ponds at Bester Elementary School.  We received a $1200 grant from the Washington County Community Foundation, which we will use at Bester Elementary School.


--Had discussions about our Monarch Waystation Grant Program with the library at Hancock.  Their new library will probably be ready next September.  They would also like a Monarch Rearing Cage.  We will use the cage to hold a July program about the northern breeding area and in September about the southern migration.


--Building a Monarch Rearing Cage for Fort Frederick State Park.  We’ll use the cage for the programs mentioned above.  We will also be putting in 500 more plants this spring at the Park.


--met with a volunteer and the naturalist at Catoctin Creek Nature Center in Frederick county.  Discussed planting a Monarch Waystation there as well as putting a Monarch Rearing Cage there.  


--will be meeting with Washington County highway department in January.  They are interested in planting monarch habitat in 3 traffic circles near Meritus Hospital and HCC.


--will be putting in a second county Monarch Waystation at Gapland County Park, off RT 67.


--will be meeting or discussing monarch options with Frederick County Parks Division.


--will be meeting with the city over possible Monarch Waystation at Pangborn City Park.


AND EVERYTHING ELSE:  We already have a number of education/outreach programs scheduled for this year.  While our Monarch Waystation Grant Program is off to a slow start, I expect activity to increase as time goes on.  We need to give the program room to grow.  I also want to use the grant committee to approve requests for Monarch Rearing Cages, native plant seed, mulch, benches and signage for waystations and for anything that we expect to spend funds on.




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