What does this mean for monarchs? In the Eastern United States, monarchs migrate north from Mexico in the spring, and subsequent generations eventually reach the northern United States and Canada in the summer. Monarchs then make their migration back south in the late summer and fall. The Western population follows a distinct migration pattern and generally winters in coastal California.
As we found in previous years, your reports indicate that generally flowers were available for monarchs at locations along their migration route at the time monarchs would need them in a typical year.
As we see more unusual seasonal climate such as early springs and late autumns, your data will help us to better understand the subtle changes in the timing of flowering from year to year. This will help us to know how nectar sources are shifting, and whether sufficient flowers are available where and when monarchs and other pollinators need them the most.
For example, let's look at the timing of open flowers in eastern baccharis (Baccharis halimifolia) reported by observers along the Gulf Coast over the past four years. This species is an important fall blooming plant for monarchs as they make their way south to their wintering grounds. The observations vary by several weeks, though most years had a peak in mid-late October. Your observations of flowering reported at the same locations over multiple years are incredibly valuable to help us see changes from year to year.