Monarch butterfly experts predicted a late migration this year, but taggers on the Llano River this weekend hit the jackpot with thousands of monarch butterflies arriving in what appears to be an early wave.
Near London, Texas, our tagging team encountered dozens of clusters of the iconic black and orange insects along the Llano River bottom this weekend. The butterflies appeared stalled in the face of winds out of the south, which prevented them from continuing their migration to Mexico. They gathered in pecan trees in an area well-known for annual roosts, their gold and rust colored wings blending in perfectly with dried pecan leaves.
The winds from the south created an opportune tagging weekend for those on the butterfly hunt. Alexander Rivard, Nicolas Rivard and Lee Marlowe, all of San Antonio, joined me for net swoops of 10 -20 butterflies. Alexander Rivard hit a new record of 41 butterflies in one net swoop.
The 24-hour tagging talley: 325 butterflies.
In Hext, Texas, veteran tagger Jenny Singleton, chief docent for Grapevine’s Butterfly Flutterby Festival, witnessed the same large numbers.
Thousands of monarch butterflies took respite on the Llano River this weekend. Video by Nicolas Rivard
“Hundreds of butterflies are flying! So cool,” she texted earlier this week. “Easy to see because we have clouds.”
Singleton said she and her team tagged 250 butterflies in two hours on Saturday.
Journey North, which tracks the migration of monarch butterflies and other wildlife, posted a report from Del Rio, Texas, on October 5 that noted monarchs “roosting in clumps of two – six on huisache, hackberry and ash trees. Watching them stretch their wings when the sun starts to reach them is incredible!”
On iNaturalist, dozens of citizen scientists reported monarch butterfly sightings in Texas this weekend.
Interestingly, we also witnessed two courtship flights, as well as first instar caterpillars and eggs on late season swamp milkweed on the Llano River.
Peak migration season for San Antonio’s latitude occurs October 10 -22. Check peak migration for your latitude on the Monarch Watch homepage.
Plenty of chances to see monarchs continue throughout October in Texas, with a prime opportunity taking place next weekend at San Antonio’s sixth annual Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival. More than 600 butterflies will be tagged and released at Confluence Park Saturday, October 16, 10 AM – 2 PM. Details here.
TOP PHOTO: Nicolas Rivard nabs a bag full of butterflies on the Llano River this weekend. Photo by Lee Marlowe, San Antonio River Authority
- Katharine Hayhoe: for productive climate change talk, find common ground
- Get your wings on for the month-long Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival
- “Things look good” as 2021 monarch butterfly migration takes flight
- Save the date for the 2021 Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival at Confluence Park
- Two monarch butterflies tagged on the Llano River in honor of lost loved ones recovered
- FREE Festival webinars available: Butterflies, bats, bees and metamorphosis
- Documentary chronicles year of chaos through the lens of the monarch butterfly migration
- Doug Tallamy proposes crowdsourcing a homegrown national park: Who’s in?
- Paddling Lessons: documentary reveals the secret life of a river
- A monarch at my Abuela’s Day of the Dead altar
- Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival to remember those lost in 2020
Like what you’re reading? Don’t miss a single article from the Texas Butterfly Ranch. Sign up for email delivery at the bottom of this page, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, @monikam or on Instagram.
So wonderful to see. We have not had many here in Northeast Texas. I only have eighteen to release this fall where as I had 63 released this spring.
Wonderful, wonder when the monarchs will be in Galveston, texas coming down the east coast, never hear much about that!!! They are always later than the other groups going through San Antonio!! Would love some news on that!! Going to take some nets to Galveston 11-12, hopefully they will becoming through then, just a crap shot!!
Love it! Monarchs make my heart sing!
We safely harbored and tagged thirty-seven very hungry larvae and all but one made it out of the cloud condo, and we hope are in or near Michoacan!
I live in the Hill Country and would like to plant native milkweed. Where can I find out the ‘right’ native milkweed I should plant? I have some tropical milkweed and know I need to cut it to the ground each fall.
I’m having at least 10 caterpillars and 2 chrysalis right now in my backyard. Is there any chance for any of them turning into monarchs. I’m writing this note today, 11/21. I’m living in Garland, Tx. Please advise me what to do next. Thank you. BTW, I have at least 10 milkweeds in my back yard at this moment, how can I know if they are native or tropical?
Hi! I have found conflicting reports on pretty orange and yellow tropical milkweed. I am looking for the right milkweed too…I guess the Texas natives are the best way to go but it’s a pity because I have some thriving tropical milkweed in my backyard as I write, it’s still blooming in the colder weather and it is gorgeous. This summer the monarchs loved it but I am concerned it’s the wrong one 🙁 They’re yellow and orange on very tall stems.
It is June 15, 2022 and no monarchs! Last year I raised over 100 monarchs. So where are they? I have a yard full of blooming milkweed…native and two cultivars.
I’m looking for them too. Saw 3 in my neighborhood last month but so far nothing. Milkweed is blooming! I’m in Garland, TX.