|Female monarch nectaring on Asclepias subulata|
On Wednesday, December 14, Gail Rochlin of Tucson was enjoying her condo in Kino Bay, Sonora, Mexico. She saw a monarch nectaring on a plentiful bank of flowering bouganvillea. Gail spotted a blue tag and was able to read the number #60061 and contacted me. Little did I know at the time this monarch came from my own backyard. You can see where #60061 flew on the map of the SW Monarch Study recoveries.
Gail Rochlin learned about the Southwest Monarch Study at a talk I gave at the Tucson Botanical Garden in Tucson last year. So when she saw the blue tag, she immediately emailed me. I was excited to hear of a recovery in Mexico - then thrilled when I learned this monarch came from my own backyard!
It is unusual to see a monarch migrate so late in the season. Migration is influenced by temperature and celestial orientation (sun angle) as well as other cues. Most monarchs stop their migrational movement by the first week of December so it is likely this female had been in the Kino Bay area for the past week. The celestial influence decreases by the end of November, although exactly when is unclear. We looked at the temperatures, wind speed and direction from the time #60061 was tagged in Chandler through the beginning of December and could find nothing that would push her to Kino Bay nor draw her there. The cool temperatures during the time period would likely keep this butterfly in reproductive diapause, common for migrating monarch butterflies during the winter months. Gail Rochlin said this monarch was in good condition when she spotted her. A breeding monarch would likely have faded wings by this time from laying eggs under the leaves of milkweed plants in the area. A special thank you to Dr. Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch for his keen educator questions to help us understand a little more about this unique recovery. He also pointed out that the route this monarch flew was very rugged and likely offered little nectar along the way.
|Male monarch nectaring on tithonia|