Paul Cherubini monarch at
Sun Mar 24 22:25:13 EST 2002

Chris Durden wrote:

> The last 11 days have seen more monarchs passing through 
> Austin TX than I have ever seen before in spring (34 springs). 
> These monarchs are very little faded and most appear to be
> quite fresh and unscratched. They are all of average or larger 
> size. They are of the normal long apex/salmon spot
> migratory phenotype. A good question is how old are they, and 
> where did they or their parents spend the winter.

Chris, I wish we could see some pictures of these
fresh, little faded, unscratched monarchs you have been seeing in 
Austin, TX  so we could compare them with the pictures we have 
of the condition of the monarchs just before they left the
overwintering reserves in Mexico.

For example, here is a picture of the typical condition of the
monarchs at the Chincua reserve on Feb. 25: The butterflies
are moderately faded, but not tattered.

For comparison, here is a newly emerged monarch:
(Ok I cheated a little - it's actually a freshly emerged New Zealand

So Chris, have the monarchs you have been seeing in Austin this month
been nearly as fresh looking as a newly emerged monarch? Or have
they been more like the pictures of the monarchs at Chincua on Feb. 25?

You might also be very interested in this female I photographed
at Chincua reserve Feb. 25 with the more rounded fore wings and white
apical spots:

A. currassavica was common below 7,000 feet in the region of 
the overwintering sites in Mexico, and it was easy to find
monarch caterpillars on the plants.  This is a picture of
some currassavica along highway 15 in Tuxpan, Michoacan
elevation 5,600 feet (which lies inbetween and slightly south of the 
Cerro San Andres and Chivati-Huacal overwintering sites)

I managed to smuggle my butterfly net into Mexico and caught (then
released) 3 reproductive monarchs flying in the vicinity of some milkweed
at Tuxpan, Michoacan.  All three monarchs had the salmon colored 
apical spots.

Paul Cherubini


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