I can remember even today, 45 years past my first experience learning about the life cycle of a butterfly thinking it was so cool! But I believe it was my dad that brought my attention to the inspirational migration of these exquisite creatures from South America to North America in the Spring and the reverse in the fall. Below is a map of their known migration routes, the arrow on the far right being the closest to my region of the U.S.A.
Since we have plenty of annuals and perennials that have been enjoying other butterfly traffic for a few weeks I believe I might be able to entertain a healthy population of this Rock Star of the butterfly world myself. Thus this idea: How Many Monarch Butterflies Did I See Yesterday. From this point forward I will use this acronym HMBY so I don’t go crazy typing the eight words.
I plan to create a space below this point to put a gigantic number to signify the number I see the previous day as I enjoy the summer blooms. If you are a Monarch watcher I invite you to join in and link back to here.
I plan to introduce a color coded system to note when the number is higher or lower. I made it red today just so it stands out in this post.
Maintaining Data Integrity
Yes, I went there. Sorry, but my long career is heavily flavored with quality control and Industrial Engineering influences so I am a stickler for quality data. Plus there is the science element to it, I want to explore about when they are most active. So all that to say I am going to add a chart that will log the time of day I visit my blooming areas and the quantity of Monarchs I encounter.
Let’s Talk About the Migration Period
According to the anecdotal data of a self-described Monarch butterfly expert and Master Gardener as well as research I have consulted online today from right now through the end of October is the usual migration period. So my chart will start with August 18 data since that is when my still super-charged mission trip brain hatched this idea until Halloween trickery has ceased. In total i will chart this for 75 days, although due to some travel plans I may not have data on specific days.
This should give me enough data points to establish some trends. Another factor I want to mention is that the aforementioned Master Gardener informed me that she had the first registered Monarch Butterfly Way Station in my region. I didn’t even know that was a thing, so a new bit of knowledge for me! Since I try to ever be the optimist I saw it this way. If she has plants that are a lure to a filling station maybe I can lure enough on their path to help solidify my data.
During my mission trip to Central America the lady missionary I am friends wiht told me about her husbands experience in the mountains in Belize I think she said where he came across a area completely covered with the creatures. She recollected how astonishing he said it was to witness. Maybe I won’t see that, but then again, with the Way Station nearby I can dream!
Look For a Daily Monarch Fact
Because I enjoy learning new information all the time I will include a daily fact every time I make an update. If you have any facts you want to contribute please do.
Not Just Monarchs
The Zinnias in my Sunflower/Zinnia/Mixed wildflower strip have been blooming for well over a month now and the butterflies not so famous have been loving their life fluttering in and out of our collection of cafe’s. When I went out this morning to do the first of my planned three observations today I had a momentary thought of trying to quantify the total number of butterflies I could eyeball. Unfortunately due to my weary eyes trying to compensate for my struggle to regain my usual sleep pattern and the sheer number of butterflies weaving in and out of each other’s flight path this is utterly impossible.
Instead I am trying to snap a quick cell phone photo of each type of butterfly so when I am sitting inside watching the snow fly or thermometer dive I can spend my time researching the names of my visitors.
No Need to Go Searching for a Monarch Photo Requiring a Photo Credit
If you look at the top of the post there is likely a professional photo of a monarch that may even have been edited to highlight the features. Have you ever tried to photograph a hungry butterfly who just hi the feed jackpot? If so you understand my thought process. But, when I made my morning check I captured this:
This fine looking specimen was filling up on our tri-color butterfly bush.
My daughter is about to begin her senior year at my alma mater and when I shared with her she got excited about this project. She headed out to gather blooms to take with her when she returned to her apartment and gathered several monarch snapshots. You can look for these with the daily updates.
Again, if you are a Monarch Watcher and would like to join in this fun endeavor please do and link to the daily posts.