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Citizen Science Opportunities - Fall Migration 2013

Aug 29, 2013


  • Community Science

Have you seen monarchs in 2013? This year has been slow for monarch monitoring so far, but keep looking, they are out there! As the fall migration begins it is imperative that we document our observations of this phenomenal event by participating in citizen science projects, such as Journey North or Monarch Watch Tagging.

Monitoring immature monarchs, through projects like the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project are beginning to wind down as the breeding season comes to an end in the northern breeding range. As the milkweed senesces and dies, breeding habitats become unsuitable for monarch eggs and larvae. Some sites, such as those along the Gulf Coast, have milkweed present during the fall and winter months and continue to have monarch eggs and larvae during that time. Recording these occurrences of eggs and larvae throughout the seasons can help lead us to answers regarding changes in migratory and breeding behaviors over time.

Find out more about citizen science opportunities to help track the monarch migration on our citizen science page. Some of these opportunities are specific to particular locations in the U.S., such as Cape May, New Jersey, or Peninsula Point on the shore of Lake Michigan. These are important stopover sites for monarchs as they migrate in through the eastern U.S. Another important location for monarch monitoring during the fall migration is Arizona and the desert southwest. This location is important because it falls between the eastern and western migratory populations and studying these monarchs can provide information about interchange between the two geographic areas during the spring and fall migrations.

Journey North offers an opportunity for anyone to report their migration sightings, such as overnight roosts or first signs of migratory monarchs or milkweed. As more reports of migration events come in, Journey North maps come to life, illustrating the spring and fall migrations each year. Using these maps, volunteers can follow a migration event and compare it to past years, or predict when monarchs will arrive in their area. It’s easy, when you see a migratory monarch, go online and report it!

The Monarch Watch Tagging program is a more hands-on approach to understanding the monarch migration. Volunteers purchase tags (stickers that go on the monarch wings) from Monarch Watch, and then either capture monarchs during the migration, or tag monarchs that they have collected and raised. Tag recoveries can help us to understand migratory routes and effects of weather and other events on survival during the migration. To learn more about tagging, visit the Monarch Watch website!

Participate in real scientific studies by becoming a monarch citizen scientist! Your data contributions are used in many publications and will help inform monarch conservation efforts in North America. The data that volunteers contribute to these citizen science projects are extremely important to our understanding of monarchs, but perhaps more important is the conservation impacts that these projects can have on those involved. Learning about these spectacular insects through citizen science inspires volunteers to create habitat and educate others. Become a monarch monitor today!