Minnesota monarchs headed south

A monarch butterfly. (MPRNews file photo)

The butterflies born here are on their way south, and their offspring will eventually reach the mountain forests in central Mexico to spend the winter. That’s the word from Journey North, the organization that collects observations from folks on its Web page. Here’s a place to record your Monarch sightings.

A couple of entries on the Web page from observers pretty much tell the story:

“Saw my first and only monarch on August 15th. In previous years our Asclepias plants have been completely defoliated by August. This year they haven’t been touched.”   Mercersburg, PA

“First monarch on August 12th. I have watched monarchs for thirty years and usually see them by the beginning of July. No eggs or larva found.”   Eastham, MA

Earlier this summer I reported a Minnesota Sounds and Voices story profiling Journey North volunteer Dave Kust about his passion for planting milkweed, the Monarch’s host plant.  I visited Dave at his suburban Twin Cities home which is liberally dotted with milkweed and we didn’t find a single egg or butterfly.

Since then, it has been a thin year for Monarch sightings. In fact, my first Monarch sighting was Aug. 17 on a park trail next to Lock and Dam #2 just outside Hastings, Minn. Then I saw another this past Sunday afternoon in rural Wisconsin near Spring Valley.  So, a few, very few, Monarchs started life here and are the vanguard of the population that will eventually reach Mexico.