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Vermont Butterfly Survey <[log in to unmask]>
Vermont Butterfly Survey <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 9 Jan 2006 06:56:38 -0500
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Vermont Butterfly Survey <[log in to unmask]>
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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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