(Photo by Glenn P. Knoblock)
Believe it or not, signs of spring are starting to pop up locally and here's another very exciting indication that warmer temperatures are right around the corner: Monarch butterflies have landed in the U.S.
While it'll be some time until they arrive in Will County from their winter home in Mexico, the trek northward is underway.
Thanks to a map from Journey North, you can chart the progress based on reported sightings from citizen scientists. Right now, the monarch butterflies have made it as far north as central Alabama.
At this point last year, there were far more reported sightings throughout Florida. The first reported sighting of a monarch in Will County came in the first week of May, a few weeks later than they had arrived in 2017.
Interpretive naturalist Suzy Lyttle said each year's migration can vary depending on weather conditions they experience. They're much more delicate than birds, she said, and they can't fly in the rain.
Winds also can make a big difference. They normally can fly at speeds up to 20 miles per hour and favorable wind conditions can allow them to travel anywhere from 40 to 100 miles per day.
"From year to year, things change," Lyttle said of their annual trek north. "It just depends. Some years, they're early and some years, they're late."
You can get involved
Do you want to get in on the reporting action? It's simple and can be accomplished directly through the Journey North site.
For now, while you're waiting for them to arrive, here's something fascinating to check out: The amazing monarch metamorphosis condensed into a matter of seconds.
RELATED: TAKE OUR MONARCH BUTTERFLY QUIZ
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