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Vermont Butterfly Survey <[log in to unmask]>
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Vermont Butterfly Survey <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 9 Jan 2006 06:56:38 -0500
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>Monarch Watch Update - December 2005
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>1) Status of the Population
>2) Monarch Waystations3) About Our Update List
>Unless otherwise noted, all content was authored
>by Chip Taylor, edited by Jim Lovett and Sarah
>Schmidt, and published by Jim Lovett.
>1) Status of the Population
>Last year at this time, I predicted that the
>total hectares for the monarch overwintering
>population would be less that 4 hectares. My
>prediction was based on the conditions in the
>spring, those through the summer, and the
>reports from taggers in the fall. The reports
>from the taggers suggested that the migration
>was the poorest in 16 years. This assessment was
>subsequently supported by the count of the total
>number of butterflies tagged. This total was a
>bit less than 26,000 and was the lowest number
>of monarchs tagged since the fall of 1996, the
>fifth year of our program. The total
>overwintering population was only 2.19 hectares,
>the lowest population recorded to date. My
>prediction of less than 4 hectares was borne
>out, but I suspected that the final population
>would prove to be much lower since the there
>were many similarities to 2000, when the final
>numbers were only 2.83 hectares. A partial
>analysis of the reasons for the low numbers of
>monarchs in 2004 can be found in the "Teaching
>with Monarchs" section of the January 2005 Update:
>The situation this year is quite different. I
>have been predicting an overwintering population
>of at least 7 hectares with a total of about 5
>hectares for the three major colonies, Sierra
>Chincua, El Rosario, and Cerro Pelon. This
>estimate, like the prediction for 2004, is also
>deliberately conservative. The population could
>certainly be higher. Indeed, all the reports we
>have received from Mexico suggest that the
>number of monarchs this year may be above the long-term average of 9 hectares.
>However, it is hard to assess these eyewitness
>accounts. People remembering the low numbers of
>last year are likely to be overly impressed with
>any increase in the population. One reporter I
>spoke with mentioned that one of the Mexican
>authorities, I'm not sure whom, was predicting a
>total population of 200-220 million monarchs. If
>this prediction was based on the assumption that
>there are an average of 10-12 million monarchs
>per hectare, then they are predicting that the
>total population could be 17 to 20 hectares.
>Wow! If true, this would certainly blow away my
>conservative prediction and the total number of
>monarchs would rival the numbers reported in
>1996 (20.97 hectares) - the largest population
>reported since the monarch colonies became known
>to science. Further, such numbers would signal a
>truly remarkable comeback, since the spring
>population that moved north in 2005 had to have
>been one of the smallest, if not the smallest,
>in the last 30 years. As it is, a comeback to a
>population of 7-9 hectares from one that was only 2.19 last year is amazing.
>The answer to the size of the population this
>winter will soon be known. Eduardo Rendon
>Salinas and his crew (World Wildlife Fund
>Mexico) are measuring the colonies now and will
>continue to do so through January. These
>measurements of the colonies are the only way to
>assess the true size of the population and the
>only way to get a perspective on the differences
>from one year to the next. This is truly a
>unique and valuable service provided by the
>World Wildlife Fund Mexico (WWFMX). This is the
>third year during which WWFMX has managed this
>task. Previously, these measurements were
>provided by Eligio Garcia Serrano, who worked
>under the directive of the office of PROFEPA
>(Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente
>- The Federal Ministry for Environmental
>Protection) and who worked frequently with
>Eduardo from 1993-2002. In 2002, Marco Bernal,
>Bill Calvert, Isabel Ramirez, Jose Maria Suarez,
>and Lincoln Brower measured the colonies. Eligio
>and Eduardo, with the support of their
>organizations and the additional crew in 2002,
>have provided us with a continuous record of the
>monarch overwintering populations from 1993 to
>the present. Would you believe that monarchs are
>the only insect in the world for which there is
>an estimate of a continentally distributed
>population and is only one of a relatively small
>number of animal species for which there is an
>annual census of this type? Numerous evaluations
>of insect populations have been undertaken in
>the last 40 years, and some are quite long in
>duration, but all deal with species confined to
>special habitats, or, in many cases, endangered
>species. The measurement of numbers of hectares
>occupied by the monarchs each year in Mexico is
>extraordinary and provides valuable insights as
>to the factors that drive the population.
>2) Monarch Waystations
>Considering the late start for the Monarch
>Waystation Program (21 April 2005) and the
>limited publicity the program received, we are
>off to a great start. We sold over 1100 Monarch
>Waystation seed kits in 2005 and there are now
>386 registered and certified Monarch
>Waystations. We are hoping to do even better in
>2006. The seeds have been ordered for new kits
>(including one specifically designed for
>California) and we are planning a publicity
>campaign to encourage many others to create monarch habitats.
>We also need your help encouraging others to
>create Monarch Waystations. One way to do this
>is to create coverage of this unique
>conservation effort in your local newspaper.
>Jane Fousler of Elmhurst, IL did just that. Jane
>is a good friend of Margarete Johnson who, as
>you may recall, creates and maintains the nectar
>and host plant resources in the Monarch Watch's
>own Monarch Waystation. Margarete does an
>outstanding job and she is extremely
>enthusiastic. During a visit to Lawrence to see
>Margarete, Jane was introduced to the Monarch
>Waystation idea. Jane returned to Elmhurst and
>set to work on her own garden, adding milkweeds,
>nectar plants and host plants for other
>butterflies. Soon after, she registered her
>garden as a Monarch Waystation (#245). In
>October, I was contacted by Kathleen Cantwell, a
>Liberty Suburban Chicago Newspaper writer, who
>wanted to write a story about Jane Fousler and
>her Monarch Waystation. The result was a
>detailed and nicely illustrated story that first
>stared appearing in suburban Chicago-area
>newspapers around the 10th of November.
>Hopefully, this story and Jane's advocacy as
>Co-Chair of the Elmhurst Garden Club's
>conservation committee will encourage others in
>the Chicago area to create Monarch Waystations.
>The Monarch Waystation Registry, an online
>listing of current certified Monarch Waystations is available at
>We will soon be adding more information for each
>site as we receive photos and text from the
>applicants. For an interesting analysis of the
>distribution of Monarch Waystations please see
>the following GardenWeb forum thread:
>Larry Gene posted the analysis and Mike Cronin
>added commentary and alerted us to the original post. Thanks to both of you!
>3) About Our Update List
>You are receiving this email because you have
>provided Monarch Watch with your email address
>at some point and expressed interest in
>receiving updates from us. If you do not wish to
>receive these periodic (probably monthly) email
>updates or feel that you were subscribed in
>error, please see the unsubscribe information at the end of this message.
>Have you somehow missed (or misplaced ;-) an
>update? Now you can find all of the updates archived online at
>If you know someone that you think might be
>interested in receiving these email updates from
>Monarch Watch with monarch news, special
>announcements, tips on raising monarchs in your
>classroom, monarch tagging information and a
>whole lot more, please send them on over to
>to join our new Monarch-Watch-Update email list - it's easy!
>Monarch Watch (http://www.MonarchWatch.org) is a
>not-for-profit educational outreach program
>based at the University of Kansas. We run a
>Monarch tagging program and offer Monarch
>Rearing Kits, Monarch Tagging Kits, and other
>educational/promotional materials that allow you
>to actively experience the monarch life cycle
>and its spectacular fall migration.
>If you would like to be removed from this
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