The Monarch Alliance News

July 2017 Newsletter

Monarch Migration News: Hello everyone – we are halfway through the summer and monarchs have spread throughout the U.S. and Canada to the extent of the milkweed belt.  Here is our July newsletter:


THE MIGRATION IS COMPLETE!  This has been an unprecedented year.  The monarchs left the Mexican sanctuaries in late February, early March, but many were seen still clustered on the Oyamel Fir trees into early April.


Their “sun compass” reversed itself in the cold weather of the Mexican wintering range, so it directed them to fly north.  They flew north until they found milkweed on which to lay their eggs, which was in northern Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma.  Rather than remaining in the southern breeding areas along the U.S. coast where they normally stay for the spring, strong winds blew them north in late March, spreading them throughout much of the summer breeding area.  Some monarchs were seen in our area around April 20 and I had some monarch cats in my garden in late May.


We are now in early July and monarchs have spread throughout the U.S. and Canada.  This is still mostly second generation monarchs with at least one more generation to go before the “migratory” generation, which will be born in late August.  Last year, there was speculation that a “pre-migrant” generation was born in September farther south in the U.S., extending the migration period and the numbers overwintering in Mexico.   Will this happen again this year?


Chip Taylor, the director of Monarch Watch, is predicting a good overwintering population this coming winter.  Maybe we will be back up to 4 hectares.


A NEW MONARCH ALLIANCE PROGRAM.  Our fundraising programs this year have been very successful.  Our Fort Frederick State Park campaign on our crowd-funding site,, has raised $1700.  In addition, someone sent me a $100 check, for a total of $1800, out of a goal of $2000.  We have a matching dollar for dollar donor so if we can raise just $200 more by July 12, we would have a total of $4000.  So, if you haven’t donated yet, please do.  The match will be open until July 12, after which I will close down the funding site.  I do not want to leave money on the table, so I hope you will donate, even if it’s only $25.


The $4000 that I hope we will have, is in addition to over $1000 from our spring milkweed and native plant sales.  In addition, we will hold another native plant sale in September.


The New Program:  I want THE MONARCH ALLIANCE to establish a grant program to give away our money.  All of it.  None saved for admin costs.  Tracy and I will establish a grant committee consisting of 7 of you:  3 from Washington county, 3 from Jefferson, Berkeley and Morgan counties, and 1 from Frederick county.  We will advertise our grant program, which will be to establish Monarch Waystations in these areas.  We will also open up the grant program to meadow projects.  Preference will be given to entities that incorporate educational principals into their program.  We will start reviewing plans for next spring, but will try to find a way to give away some of our money this year.  IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BEING PART OF THE COMMITTEE, send me an email at  We will give preference to individuals that have donated to the Fort Frederick State Park project, but even if you have not donated, we may want you on the committee.


JULY PROGRAMS:  We will have two butterfly counts in July.  On July 22, we will do a count at the National Conservation Training Center, and on July 29, we will do another count at the Antietam National Battlefield.  These events will start at 10 a.m. and run for a couple of hours.  Registration is limited so register now on the website of the Potomac Valley Audubon Society,


OTHER NEWS:   We have put Sunny Meadows in touch with Archewild, which sells plants that are from the eco-specific region of our area.  We hope Sunny Meadows will sell mostly “pure native” plants, in addition to native cultivars.  It may take Sunny Meadows a year to complete the process.  


I believe there will be a growing need for these purely native plants.  Why are they so important?  First, they are from our area and have evolved with the local weather conditions, so they are more drought tolerant than cultivars.  Second, they have co-evolved with the fauna which depends on these plants.  They bloom when the insects are at their highest numbers.  And finally, some studies have shown they have a higher food value for the insects that depend on them.


We will start planting pure natives this fall at Fort Frederick State Park.  


Washington County Beekeepers Association.  When we planted the Monarch Waystation at Camp Harding in Big Pool, we had many volunteers helping us plant.  Some were from the Washington County Beekeepers Association.  We should have a natural alliance with the beekeepers, as there is with gardeners.  I will be meeting with the beekeepers association Friday to discuss their becoming one of our partners.


Sunday’s Farmers Market in Shepherdstown.  We will join PVAS this Sunday, July 9, in Shepherdstown to hand out information on monarchs, Monarch Waystations, and The Monarch Alliance.


That’s all for now.  Enjoy the rest of the summer and join in our July events!




Sandy Sagalkin

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