Citizen science in TX: Watching the Monarchs Migrate and other projects

Tuesday of this past week marked the official arrival of fall with the autumnal equinox. It was united with the harvest moon, the first full moon of fall. They seldom fall together so this was a rare treat. I hope you had clear skies to enjoy the event.

Another regular occurrence that happens in the fall is the migration of many species. Texas is an important path way, lying along the Gulf of Mexico and the west Texas mountain ranges, many species are funneled through the state. Among these migrants are the Monarch Butterflies that have been born in the northern US and southern Canada through the summer. Each fall they head south to over winter in the fir studded mountains of central Mexico. The butterflies will arrive in their wintering grounds in November passing through Texas on their way.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) along with the Monarch Watch of University of Kansas conduct a citizen science data collection each fall.

There are two important pathways through the state according to TPWD. The first covers a path, 300 miles wide, between Wichita Falls and Eagle Pass. They will be entering this migration route now and this migration will last until about the third week of October.

The second path follows the Texas coast. This migration begins durning the third week in October and lasts till mid November. It covers an area through central Texas near San Angelo and other places. The peak of migration will be during the second and third weeks of October in this area. More information is available from the Texas Parks and Wildlife web site.

You or your students can get involved as a citizen scientist by contacting Monarch Watch and ordering their Monarch Tagging Materials. By participating in this tagging operation you will help the scientist who study the monarchs in the wintering ground know the path and the distance these monarchs traveled.

Citizen science is a great for kids to get involved in some important data collection for scientists who are studying species. It is an important collaboration because there is no way that scientists can be everywhere they need to be to collect the detail of data they need to understand the dynamics of a species like the Monarch. It is a great way to connect kids to real work that is done to understand the life cycle of a species. Those of you who have planted your butterfly gardens this summer should have a lot of fall visitors stop by.

Other citizen science projects that are underway at TPWD include a Box Turtle study, Texas Mussel Watch, and the Texas Hummingbird Roundup, to name just a few.

What’s passing through your garden this fall?

2 comments to Citizen science in TX: Watching the Monarchs Migrate and other projects

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    • thenatureschool

      I post weekly on Sundays. Enjoy. Perhaps someday I’ll post more often but for now it’s once weekly.