Paul Cherubini cherubini at
Tue Jun 27 20:03:30 EDT 2000

D Marven wrote:
> Today the 27th June 2000 i found a Monarch at Arbutus Ridge,Cobble Hill,
> Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada. I believe this is the first record in
> nearly 8 years here on Vancouver Island. I was wondering what is the
> chances of this being a true vagrant or is it more than likely a captive
> bred escapee? 

Monarchs have been common throughout most of the West (around
milkweed patches) for at least the past two weeks. It is normal to see them
in extreme southern interior B.C. by mid-June. There are more monarchs east of 
the Cascades than west of the Cascades, but in high population years like 
1997, I found monarch caterpillars on nearly all the milkweed patches 
in the Seattle and Portland areas. So quite a few routinely fly west
of (and within) the Cascades. This summer looks like a good (though
not exceptional) year for monarchs in the Pacific northwest.

The chances of spotting a captive bred escapee appear to be extremely 
small. Fo example, despite the thousands of monarchs that were shipped to 
Portland and Seattle areas for wedding releases in May '98. '99 and 2000, 
no lepidopterists have reported seeing any monarchs on the wing 
in these area until June (the normal arrival time for wild monarchs). Indeed,
last year I remember Bob Pyle saying only one monarch had been
seen in western Washington the whole summer (despite the thousands
that had been released at weddings). 

In years with exceptionally warm spring weather, overinwintered
monarchs from California reach southern Washington by the last 
week in April. This happened in April 1992 and there were many
other sightings of monarchs in western Washington in May 1992. 
There were virtually no wedding releases of monarchs back in 1992
(at least in the western USA).

Paul Cherubini

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