Subspecies and protection

Mark Walker MWalker at
Mon Oct 16 16:12:38 EDT 2000

One other anecdote (I think I've shared this before):

In 1972 one member of Boy Scout Troop 117 from Long Beach, CA captured a
Monarch at the summit of Mt. Whitney - elevation 14,400 ft. above sea level.
The butterfly was not flying very strong - and was an easy capture.  Being
the insect guru of Troop 117, the butterfly ended up in one of my Riker
mounts (this was a time when Boy Scouts and their tendency to intrusively
interrogate the environment were not politically incorrect).  Too bad this
Lep was included in the theft of my entire collection at Millikan High
School in 1976.

Bottom line:  Monarchs can and do (at least occasionally) fly over the
Sierra Nevada - even at it's highest point.

Mark Walker
Oceanside, CA

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Paul Cherubini [mailto:cherubini at]
> Sent: Sunday, October 15, 2000 5:29 PM
> To: leps-l at
> Subject: Re: Subspecies and protection 
> Heath, Fred wrote:
> > your suggestion that the Bishop butterflies have a 
> > tougher time getting to coastal southern California is 
> > certainly not true. These Monarchs probably moved south 
> > along the eastern flank of the Sierras.
> Good point and I thought of that. So in a subsequent year I 
> did a more conclusive test. I released a few hundred monarchs 
> during the first week of November further north at Minden,
> Nevada (just south of Reno). A few weeks later one of these was 
> found alive on the CENTRAL California coast at Morro Bay, 
> Calif. So there is little doubt this butterfly went right over the
> snow capped 10,000 - 11,000 foot central Sierras. Another
> butterfly from this Minden release was found in Santa Barbara.
> Art Shapiro reported a monarch flying at Carson Pass, 8,593 feet in 
> the central Sierra on Oct. 28 (in the News of the Lep Society about
> 10 years ago). Also, Derham Giuliani has seen a few monarchs 
> flying through 11,000 foot passes in the southern Sierra as
> late as Nov. 12. As long as the weather is sunny monarchs can fly 
> for sustained periods when temperatures are in the 40's & 50's
> and can survive brief overnight temperatures into the low 20's.
> Walt Sakai had a bizarre recovery of a tagged monarch in March
> at the Mammoth Mountain ski resort in the southern Sierra's.
> This butterfly was found dead in the snow by a skier at
> around 9500 feet elevation. The butterfly had apparently 
> flown over the Sierras from a Santa Barbara overwintering 
> site where it was tagged.
> > Interestingly, I found and reported one (after reading its letter
> > and numbers with binoculars) of these bright orange-tagged 
> > butterflies that year in my backyard in Simi Valley (southeast 
> > Ventura Co.) within two weeks of the release.
> Yep, that was one of the Bishop, CA butterflies. Small world.
> > On a related note, Paul mentioned that Mark Walker found
> > a winter roost in Anza-Borrego. Could Paul or Mark 
> > enlighten me as to exactly where that was? 
> I havn't been there so I hope Mark can tell us the exact location
> again.
> Paul Cherubini

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