The Monarch butterfly migration has begun

The hawks are beginning to pass over the Straits of Mackinac as they migrate south for the
winter. MSRW staff have been counting those hawks daily for several weeks now and
welcoming visitors to the hawk watch site at Point LaBarbe.
During that same time several MSRW volunteers have been monitoring the area within a half
mile of the hawk watch site for migrating monarch butterflies. They are hoping to capture and
tag up to 1,000 of these so called “Super Generation” monarchs before they cross the Straits of
Mackinac as they migrate south and head to central Mexico for the winter.
If these monarchs successfully fly all the way to Mexico and survive the winter, they will then
begin the first stage of the spring migration, reaching northern Mexico or perhaps Texas before
they die. It will take several more generations of monarchs to reach the upper great Lakes and
in late summer the next Super Generation will appear and begin that long migration south.
Last fall MSRW volunteers tagged 500 monarchs at Point LaBarbe and three of those tags were
recovered at the El Rosario Butterfly Preserve in Central Mexico, which is over 2,000 miles
south of St. Ignace.
During the past two weeks we have tagged around 225 monarchs, with over 100 tagged on
August 31 st alone. Not many migrating monarchs have been observed since then, but we expect
the migration to pick up again after Labor Day. We encourage you to visit Point LaBarbe soon,
to witness the fall hawk migration and possibly a big flight of migrating monarchs.

Jeff Dykehouse September 4, 2021

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