|Queen Butterfly on Dogbane|
|Pearl Crescents nectaring on A. tuberosa|
Grand Canyon. July 12 found us at the Grand Canyon and we searched several common breeding areas. We only found one male monarch near the South Rim Bright Angel lodge. Still, it was early in the season and the milkweed, A. subverticillata, looked good and was in bloom. By August 3, Robb Hannawacker reported one female laying eggs and four males. A year ago during this time-frame we tagged over 30 monarchs in this same area.
|Buffalo Park, Flagstaff|
|Female monarch nectaring on A. subverticillata near Show Low|
weekend of July 25 to Show Low, Springerville, Eager, Rudd Creek and other White Mountain locations where the monarch population is normally firmly established by this date. In the past we noted over 20 monarchs at some locations by this time of year with several females laying eggs at each site.This year, we found only one lone monarch in Springerville and another was reported at nearby Becker Lake. The next day, we were ready to leave the field outside of Show Low when movement in the distance caught our eye - a worn female laying eggs - but after hours walking this normally monarch rich location, we found only this one.
Sedona & Prescott. Reports began coming in from both Sedona and Prescott the weekend of August 1, especially after a well-attended (over 100 people!) monarch presentation at Watters Garden Nursery in Prescott. Reports from Sedona (north of Prescott) began first, followed by Prescott area several days later.
|Female Monarch Butterfly laying eggs on A. subverticilatta|
|Fields of verbena outside Show Low|
Each report of a monarch or immature (egg, larva or pupa) is especially important this year. Be sure to post any sightings on the Southwest Monarch Study Facebook Page or Email Southwest Monarch Study with location information and/or photos. The numbers are low, but don't panic. Remember the monarch migration will likely sweep monarchs from further north and east as well through Arizona and the Southwest. So far indicators are that many parts of the West (especially Washington) and Southwest (especially Nevada and New Mexico) are having an exceptionally good breeding season for monarchs. Our local numbers could be lower because our late Spring cool spell and freezes in the mid and higher elevations could have affected our local summer breeding population. Soon a wave of breeding monarchs will begin sweeping through the entire state about a month before the peak migration for each latitude. This will help repopulate monarchs in each region and their offspring will in time join the migration in September and October.
In case you missed it, be sure to read our paper recently published in the Journal of the Lepidopterist Society in June,"Status of Danaus plexippus in Arizona". Or you can read a condensed version, Top Ten Key Findings.
Email the Southwest Monarch Study for tags if you live in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, western Colorado or the deserts of California. Act soon - over 1,000 tags have already been distributed. The monarch migration is right around the corner!