Although it is known that monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) in North America east of the Rocky Mountains migrate each fall to overwintering sites in central Mexico, the migratory routes monarchs take have only been indirectly studied. Over three fall migration periods (1998–2000) we captured monarchs on the eastern shore of Virginia in an attempt to recover monarchs initially tagged farther north. Of 2190 monarch captures, 6 were previously tagged in other locations, allowing possible migration routes and rates of travel in varying wind conditions to be inferred. Monarchs reached our site fastest when they migrated with strong northerly winds. Only one monarch tagged at our study site was recovered at the overwintering site in Mexico. Compared to recovery rates from monarchs tagged in other locations in North America, this suggests that monarchs at our site are less likely to reach the Mexican overwintering site in certain years. We also report discovery of an annual monarch accumulation area on the extreme southern tip of the eastern shore of Virginia on the Delmarva Peninsula.
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Vol. 147 • No. 1