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The Buzz

Migration Watch: Monarchs Have Made It Into Illinois

(Photo by Glenn P. Knoblock)

We're seeing all sorts of activity popping up outside, from turtles and snakes being more active to wildflowers sprouting up, and now we can point to another wonderful sign of spring: The imminent arrival of monarch butterflies. 

Thanks to a map from Journey North, we can see that they've made their way into Illinois with the first statewide sighting in Carbondale. There also has been a reported sighting just north of St. Louis. All of this means it's just a matter of weeks before they hit Will County.

So far, they appear to be following a similar schedule as last year and if the pattern holds up, they should be arriving here around the first week in May.

Our first reported sighting in Will County in 2019 came on May 8 at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

Interpretive naturalist Suzy Lyttle said each year's migration can vary depending on the 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.

Just sign up for an account and you're all set. It only takes a minute to share your sighting. The data, which is submitted by more than 60,000 registered users in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, is used to better understand migratory species.

For now, while you're waiting for them to arrive in your yard, here's something fascinating to check out: Some very hungry monarch caterpillars we've previously raised at Plum Creek Nature Center.



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