Already noticing Monarch butterflies in NTX? Possible reasons why

Already noticing Monarch butterflies in NTX? Possible reasons why

They are the fluttering, fleeting beauties we count on seeing every spring and fall; Monarch butterflies, on their way down to Mexico for the winter or Canada for the summer, stopping in North Texas along the way.
 
For the fall flight, they usually show up in our area en masse in early October.
 
But at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, natural scientist Gail Manning says they've had Monarchs for weeks already.
 
"It has been a little earlier this year," she said Monday. "We saw our first Monarch August 25."
 
Others in Fort Worth and the region have snapped and shared their own pictures of Monarchs and their eggs in their backyards.
 
How do you explain it? We called up Elizabeth Howard for some answers. She has been tracking Monarch migrations for 25 years. She runs the web site "Journey North," which allows people to record their Monarch sightings.
 
"The influx you're seeing could be a couple of things," Howard said.
 
She says the main migration isn't early at all; it's currently on track, in Iowa.
 
Howard guesses what we may be seeing here is the "pre-migration." They are Monarchs that fly down about 4-6 weeks ahead of time to breed. Those eggs will then hatch and join the rest of the migration. Typically, you may not even notice them. But this year, Howard speculates there may be more of them-- or, she theorizes they've stuck around North Texas longer than normal because of the weather system Texas just had-- and their numbers built up.
 
"Maybe the hurricane stalled them as they were coming down, that's a possibility," she said.
 
So how do you get Monarchs who are in the area to stop in your yard? The experts say there are plenty of ways.
 
"They increase their body weight 70 percent in Texas alone," Manning said, "so it's really important for us to provide nectar-producing flowers so they can tank up." So plant plenty of fall-blooming flowers like aster and goldenrod.
 
And get ready for round two, because the main Monarch migration won't be here for a few more weeks.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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