The news at Journey South sort of confirms my own observations and experience of the Monarch migration this fall. Namely, that it has been slow in Texas.
Large numbers of Monarchs were reported farther north and moving our way in August and September, but for the most part the numbers in Texas have been rather sparse. The question is, have the butterflies somehow slipped by without being seen, or are they still loitering out there somewhere and perhaps will be showing up later this month? The people at Journey South characterize last week as "surprisingly quiet."
In my own yard, the pace of the migration actually picked up last week. As regular readers may recall, I had only seen one Monarch in the yard this fall prior to then. But, during last week, two more showed up on different days. Neither of them tarried for very long. They fed for a while on the nectar plants as I watched and then moved on.
So my grand total of sightings in my yard this fall has been three. In other years, I would have had tens or even hundreds by now. I have no doubt that other Monarchs have passed through my yard unseen. Still, since I am out there every day for most of the day, it seems unlikely that any large numbers could have passed by without my seeing them.
Interestingly, as we were coming back from a trip to Bolivar Peninsula last Friday, late in the afternoon, we encountered a few migrating Monarchs after we headed north on SH 249. I counted four on the ten mile (about) stretch between the Beltway and our house. They were flying singly, high above the roadway, and each one was headed west.
The thing is, in order for the Monarchs to get to their wintering grounds in Mexico, they have to pass through Texas. Some pass through what is called the "Central Flyway" and others follow the "Coastal Flyway" and we are squarely in the middle of that. Most of the butterflies from the southeastern part of the country follow the Coastal Flyway, so it may well be that we will see greatly increased numbers of the fliers over the next two to three weeks.
It is unclear how much the Monarchs have been able to rebuild their population since last winter's devastation. Once they have all reached the wintering area, scientists can get a better count and determine how things are going for them.
Meantime, we sit and wait. Our milkweed is all planted and waving enticingly in the breeze. The table is set. Will the guests show up?
A visitor from last October.