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MIGRATION NEWS. The leading edge of the migration showed up in the Mexican sanctuaries right on schedule on November 2, El Dia de la Muerte, The Day of the Dead. Every year, the monarchs show up at the sanctuaries within a few days of this holiday. The Day of the Dead is a day of great celebration, especially near the monarch sanctuaries, as the butterflies represent the spirits of departed relatives.

There is so much to learn about this amazing migration. I recently posted an article on our Facebook page by Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch, which provides insights into the migration:

Most monarchs are tagged within the " migration window" for each latitude. The migration window is a 30-day period roughly corresponding to a 10-degree shift in the altitude angle (sun angle) of the sun at noon from 57-47 degrees. The leading edge of the migration usually arrives at each latitude close to an altitude angle of 57-56 with nearly all monarchs passing through a particular location when the altitude angle reaches 47 degrees (Taylor and Gibo, unpublished data). http://monarchwatch.org/blog/2016/11/02/tagging-results-and-the-monarch-decline/

How do they do that? Monarch researchers also believe monarchs are able to navigate to the sanctuaries by using cues from the position of the sun.

GREAT NEWS: TMA IS NOW A PARTNER OF MONARCH JOINT VENTURE. MJV is a national organization that includes federal, state and local government agencies, private conservation groups, academic groups, and others. Each partner contributes knowledge and experience with regard to monarch conservation, research, monitoring or education and outreach.

This is a great privilege for TMA. TMA is now connected to the strongest and most important coalition of organizations across the US that support monarch conservation. Most of our handouts and educational material comes from MJV. Of course, this will be a two-way street, and we will have to do our part and increase our education and outreach programs in Washington County and the eastern panhandle of West Virginia.

In mid-September, I attended the annual meeting of MJV, met many of the other " partners" and came away duly impressed by all of the work being done in monarch conservation, monitoring, habitat restoration and education and outreach. Some of the major researchers in the field, including Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch and Karen Oberhauser, gave summaries of their recent work.

DISCUSSIONS UNDERWAY REGARDING CLOSER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE POTOMAC VALLEY AUDUBON SOCIETY (PVAS) AND DISCOVERY STATION. We have been holding discussions with the Potomac Valley Audubon Society and Discovery Station about forming a closer relationship with those organizations. There would be numerous advantages with such an alliance. First, both organizations are well established in their respective communities and would provide us with a sense of permanence that we need to do our best work. Both have memberships or a public following that would allow us to reach new audiences in West Virginia and Maryland, including parents interested in monarch science activities for their children. I could name other benefits but will hold off pending further discussions with these organizations.

MEETING OF COMMISSION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION (CEC). As you may know, the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center NCTC) in Shepherdstown, one of our partners, is a key player in monarch conservation activities. In mid-October, it hosted a workshop of the CEC, a tri-lateral organization under NAFTA dedicated to working on environmental issues affecting the North American continent. The workshop brought together monarch experts involved in education and awareness programs and pollinator garden initiatives to collaborate on conservation within the monarch flyway in Canada, Mexico and the United States. I was able to obtain an invitation through one of our members at NCTC.

NEW MEMBERS OF THE TMA COORDINATING COMMITTEE (TMA CC). I am pleased to announce the addition of two more experts to our TMA CC, Chris Tawney and Larry Stritch.

Chris is the biologist at the Antietam National Battlefield who is primarily responsible for the warm season grassland conversion project at the Otto Farm site of the battlefield. I have been working with Chris for several years doing bird surveys at the site and for the last couple years, we have added monarch tagging and butterfly counts at Otto Farm.

Larry Stritch, whom I just recently met, was formerly the National Botanist with the US Forest Service. He is an expert on native plants and recently worked with James Dillon and Ann Aldrich to review and revise the TMA perennial plant list.

I am very proud of the expertise we are building in the TMA CC.


  • Mark Haddock is the new head of the City of Hagerstown Parks and Recreation Department. We will try to meet with him and the other city staff in mid-December to work out our 2017 monarch educational programs at the city parks. Last year, this included a spring milkweed sale hosted by the city, a butterfly and plant ID workshop at the Monarch Waystation at Kiwanis Park, and several tagging demonstrations at Kiwanis and City parks.
  • TMA has been invited to participate again in the Hagerstown Community College Flower and Garden Show on March 12.
  • TMA will be holding our spring milkweed sale and public monarch educational program at Kiwanis Park on May 27. This is our official opening day, although we will be conducting other activities before May 27.
  • TMA has been invited to participate again in the Washington County Master Gardener’s Pollinator Palooza on August 26.

TMA ANNUAL MEETING. For some time I have wanted to have an annual meeting and am hoping we can have one in late March or early April.



Sandy Sagalkin