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Monarch Watch Update February 2022 – Monarch Watch

Wednesday, February 9th, 2022 at 2:28 pm by Jim Lovett

This newsletter was recently sent via email to those who subscribe to our email updates. If you would like to receive periodic email updates from Monarch Watch, please take a moment to complete and submit the short Google Form at

Greetings Monarch Watchers!

This is a relatively brief update, primarily serving as a follow-up to some items in last month’s email. Thank you for your continued interest and support!

Included in this issue:
1. Monarch Watch One Day Fundraising Event
2. Monarch Watch Tag Recoveries
3. Free Milkweed Programs
4. A Return to the Monarch Puzzle
5. About This Monarch Watch List

1. Monarch Watch One Day Fundraising Event

As promised last month, below is the official announcement of this year’s one day fundraising event taking place next week. We will send out a reminder on the day of the event to give you easy access to the link, should you like to participate. Help us continue our mission to restore habitats for monarchs and native pollinators – donations of any amount do help and are greatly appreciated.

On Thursday, February 17th Monarch Watch will again be featured in the University of Kansas’ annual “One Day. One KU.” 24-hour fundraising campaign. This event provides an opportunity for Monarch Watchers all over the globe to come together and show their support of our programs.

This year you will be able to take advantage of FOUR matching opportunities to increase the impact of your gift:

1. Monarch Watch Director Chip Taylor and his wife, Toni, are matching dollar-for-dollar all gifts up to $4,000.

2. Dedicated supporter, Janet Lanza, will match dollar-for-dollar all gifts to Monarch Watch, up to $5,000!

3. KU alumna and Monarch Watch supporter, Susan Lordi Marker, will match dollar-for-dollar all gifts, up to $5,000!

4. An anonymous donor will match dollar-for-dollar all gifts up to $5,000 to Monarch Watch and encourages others to donate.

Additionally, many employers will match employee gifts to Monarch Watch so that is yet another opportunity!

To make a donation online the day of the event, visit

To make a gift by phone anytime between now and the day of the event, call KU Endowment at (888) 653-6111 – just be sure to mention that you would like to give in support of Monarch Watch for the one-day event.

Don’t forget to check your email on February 17th for the reminder and link – thank you!

2. Monarch Watch Tag Recoveries

Many of you have been asking about when tag recoveries for the 2021 tagging season will be posted online.

Recoveries from the overwintering sites in central Mexico are typically reported to us in February/March and posted online in March/April once everything is received and verified. We will make an announcement via our email updates so stay tuned!

The tag recoveries within the U.S., Canada and northern Mexico are typically posted in January/February once everything has been vetted – a link to the list is now posted online at

As a reminder, if you have not submitted your tagging data to us yet, it is not too late! Complete information (including links to the tag data submission form and recovery lists) is available on our Monarch Tagging Program page at

3. Free Milkweed Programs

For habitat restoration projects

Monarch Watch will once again be distributing free milkweeds for planting in large-scale habitat restoration projects for Spring 2022. Since this program began in 2015, almost 252,000 milkweeds [edit: more than 650,000 milkweeds] have been planted in restored habitat throughout much of the range of the eastern monarch population.

New this year, we will be able to distribute free milkweeds to many areas of California (in addition to areas east of the Rocky Mountains) – please see the link below for complete details. To qualify, applicants must have a minimum of two acres (one acre in CA) to restore to natural, native habitat, and have a management plan in place. Milkweeds are awarded on a first come, first served basis, so apply early.

Those awarded free milkweeds need only pay shipping/handling, which is modest compared to the value of the plants. Please help us spread the word by sharing widely. For more information and to apply, please visit:

For Schools and Nonprofits

The Free Milkweeds for Schools and Nonprofits Grant is in its 8th year and we are still distributing free milkweeds to those who qualify. Through the generous support of the Natural Resources Defense Council, this program provides funding for 6000 plants. Each recipient receives one full flat of milkweed plants to be added to a public garden. Schools, libraries, nature centers and museums are examples of past recipients. This program is available to applicants in California and all states east of the Rocky Mountains. The application can be found here:

4. A Monarch Puzzle – Chip Taylor

The contest is still on.

“When does the migration northward end – or does it”?

In a monthly update posted in June of 2003 with the above title, I wrote “My guess is that the migration stops at each degree of latitude northward at a particular date, that these dates can be predicted, and that all directional migration stops before the 21st of June at all latitudes.” Over the years I have returned to that question several times and have asked myself repeatedly what might the monarchs be responding to that would stop directional flight. The question is basically – what is changing and how is that change perceived by the monarchs? Further, whatever the cue is, it has to be similar over all latitudes.

So, what could it be? I think I’ve figured it out, and I think you can too. That was the basis for the puzzle in the last email update (see original text below). The challenge was to identify a factor common to all locations that could explain why monarchs would stop directional flight on a certain date.

Fourteen people submitted answers to the puzzle by the end of January. None of them arrived at the answer I was seeking and that’s not surprising. It’s a difficult question, and it took me a long time to arrive at the pattern that I think explains when monarchs stop directional flight in late May to early June from Dallas to Winnipeg.

All of the respondents mentioned seasonal changes, and these ranged from temperatures and winds to changes in vegetation, daylength and sun angle. However, none of them pointed to a specific change that was common to all four sites – specifically a change that the monarchs might respond to.

I’m confident that many of you can get to the answer I did, and to get you there, I’m are going review a few things and direct you to a website. (In the original puzzle, the dates for St. Paul and Winnipeg were incorrect, being 9 and 12 respectively. They are corrected in the table below).

Table 1. Seasonal metrics for specific locations.

Location Date Daylength Sun angle (SASN) Solstice 22nd
Lawrence, KS 5 June 14h48m12s 73.63° 74.47° 74.46°
Ames, IA 7 June 15h9m33s 70.78° 71.42° 71.41°
St. Paul, MN 8 June 15h31m41s 67.95° 68.50° 68.49°
Winnipeg, CAN 11 June 16h18m0s 63.23° 63.55° 63.54°

It’s clear from this table that daylength, sun angle at solar noon and at the solstice (21 June) all change with date and latitude. So, none of these changes per se can explain why monarchs might stop migrating on the dates suggested. Yet, there is change. So, the question becomes is there a feature of the changes that are occurring that is common to all locations? There are a number of sources on the internet that are useful in this context. My favorite is SunCalc ( )

For a short tutorial on how to use SunCalc please visit

Table 1 was assembled using SunCalc, but there is more that can be learned using this site. To get to where I did, think about what the monarchs may or may not be responding to as the season changes. You can get to the answer using, and if you get there, you may react the way I did. It was kind of a eureka moment – except I didn’t say eureka!

If you think you have figured out what these four locations have in common on the dates indicated and have an explanation for why migratory flight probably stops on these dates, send your answer to Monarch Watch at (with “Puzzle Submission” in the Subject line) by the 28th of February 2022. We will reward the three best answers with a copy of the new migration board game “Mariposas”.

A Monarch Puzzle – original text

Get out your pencils!

We know that directional flight (migration) by first generation monarchs that have moved northward stops sometime in June, but we aren’t sure when it stops, where it stops or why. I have an idea based on one data point that may explain the when and why for a series of latitudes. I’m going to explain the observation and tell you when I expect directional flight ends at the latitudes of Ames, IA, St Paul, MN and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Many years ago, I asked an undergraduate to pay special attention to directional flight by monarchs in late May and June. We knew that first generation monarchs from the South Region (Texas and Oklahoma) were moving through the area at that time on the way north to the summer breeding grounds north of 40N. We also knew that that migration stopped suddenly but we didn’t know when or why. She went to a location with lots of common milkweed patches at which the passing monarchs would stop briefly but then continue flying N/NE. The last day she spotted monarchs moving to the N/NE was the 5th of June. That got me thinking, if I know when they stopped in Lawrence, could I extrapolate from the conditions on the 5th of June to those in other latitudes? Well, I’ve done so, and the prediction is that directional flight should stop in Ames on the 7th, in St Paul on the 9th and Winnipeg on the 12th.

So here is the puzzle: what do the dates at the latitudes represented by these cities have in common with the conditions that occur on the 5th of June in Lawrence, Kansas?

5. 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.

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