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Migration of the Monarch Butterfly

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Science, Technology and Business Division
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Every fall the two main populations of monarch butterflies in North America - one in the East and one in the West begin their seasonal migrations south to an overwintering site. In the spring the monarch leaves its winter roost to return northward, stopping about half way back to lay eggs on milkweed plants. The offspring of the monarch must continue the journey north on its own. In the fall, this new generation will once again begin the migration cycle south. This guide lists selected titles, journal articles and digital resources about monarch butterfly migration, conservation initiatives, and public projects. If you have any additional questions about this topic, please Ask a Librarian.


Chronicling America

The following list of select historical articles from Chronicling America highlights public, scientific observations of monarch butterflies. Chronicling America provides access to information about historic newspapers and select digitized newspaper pages; it is produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.

The Indianapolis journal.
July 24, 1899, Page 4, Image 4

The Marion daily mirror.
Sept 16, 1911, Page 3, Image 3

The San Francisco call.
March 18, 1900, Image 16

The Barre daily times.
Oct 04, 1911, Page 7, Image 7

Chariton courier.
Sept 14, 1900, Image 8

The sun.
March 31, 1912, Page 8, Image 52

The professional world.
Nov 15, 1901, Image 1

El Paso herald.
Dec 26, 1913, Image 6

Evening star.
June 06, 1902, Page 10, Image 10

Richmond times-dispatch.
April 11, 1915, Image 55

New-York tribune.
June 29, 1902, Page 14, Image 44

Norwich bulletin.
Sept 16, 1916, Page 4, Image 4

The Minneapolis journal.
Sept 05, 1906, Page 7, Image 7

The Washington times.
Oct 27, 1916, Page 4, Image 4

Courier Democrat.
Sept 20, 1906, Image 1

Shepherdstown register.
June 14, 1917, Image 1

The Salt Lake herald.
Oct 20, 1907, Page 11, Image 11

The L'Anse sentinel.
Aug 19, 1921, Image 15

Rock Island Argus.
Jan 16, 1909, Page 8, Image 8

The North Platte semi-weekly tribune. Sept 06, 1921, Image 8.



General Titles

Agrawal, Anurag A. Monarchs and milkweed: a migrating butterfly, a poisonous plant, and their remarkable story of coevolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017. 283 p.
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 A47 2017
LCCN: 2016034053
Library of Congress E-Resources Online Catalog

“Lavishly illustrated with more than eighty color photos and images, Monarchs and Milkweed takes readers on an unforgettable exploration of one of nature’s most important and sophisticated evolutionary relationships.” (Summary provided by publisher.)

Monarch butterflies,
 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Digital Library

Biology and conservation of the monarch butterfly. Edited by Stephen B. Malcolm and Myron P. Zalucki. Los Angeles, CA: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 1993. 419 p.
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 B56 1993
LCCN: 93209268
Papers from the Second International Conference on the Monarch Butterfly, Sept. 2-5, 1986 at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Includes bibliographical references and index.

Braudeau, Michel, Monarque et autres sujets. English: The flight of the monarch and other reflections; translated from the French by Sophie Hawkes. New York: G. Braziller, 2004. 111p. LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 B7213 2004
LCCN: 2003024564

“Consisting of six poetic essays…this elegantly written book demystifies the natural world by clearly, accurately, and often humorously, conveying encyclopedic knowledge in small chapters. This book will appeal to a wide audience.” (Summary provided by the publisher.)

Grace, Eric S. The world of the monarch butterfly. San Francisco, Sierra Club Books, 1997. 114p.
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3G73 1997
LCCN: 97007178

“Here is the story of the beloved monarch's life cycle, in all the complexity of its metamorphoses, survival strategies, courtship rituals, and epic migrations from the rare oyamel fir forests of central Mexico all the way to Canada. Includes 55 color photos.”  (Summary provided by the publisher.)

Gould, James L. Nature's Compass: the Mystery of Animal Navigation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012. 294 p.
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL782 .G68 2012
LCCN: 2011035086

“This book…explain[s] how animals measure time and show how the fragile monarch butterfly employs an internal clock, calendar, compass, and map to commence and measure the two thousand mile annual journey to Mexico, all with a brain that weighs only a few thousandths of an ounce.” (Summary provided by the publisher.)

Halpern, Sue. Four Wings and a Prayer: Caught in the Mystery of the Monarch Butterflies. New York: Pantheon Books, 2001. 212 p.
LCCN Permalink:
LCCN: QL561.D3H35 2001
LCCN: 00051055

“Combining science, memoir, and travel writing, Four Wings and a Prayer is an absorbing travelogue and a fascinating meditation on a profound mystery of the natural world.” (Summary provided by the publisher.)

The Monarch Butterfly: Biology & Conservation. Edited by Karen S. Oberhauser and Michelle J. Solensky. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004. 248 p.
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 M66 2004
LCCN: 2004000884

In addition to covering every aspect of the monarch life cycle, the "Monarch Butterfly contains the first publication of data compiled from two established citizen science projects, Journey North and the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project. It also reports for the first time on...the creation of a larger protected area in the Mexican overwintering sites and a weather-related mortality event during the winter of 2002." (Summary provided by the publisher.)

Monarchs in a Changing World: Biology and Conservation of an Iconic Butterfly edited by Karen S. Oberhauser, Kelly R. Nail, Sonia Altizer. Ithaca; London: Comstock Publishing Associates, a division of Cornell University Press, 2015. 321 pages.
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 M6635 2015
LCCN: 2014034844

“To meet the demand for a timely synthesis of monarch biology, conservation and outreach, Monarchs in a Changing World summarizes…developments in scientific research, highlights challenges and responses to threats to monarch conservation, and showcases the many ways that monarchs are used in citizen science programs, outreach, and education. The target audience includes entomologists, population biologists, conservation policymakers, and K–12 teachers.” (Summary provided by the publisher.)

Pyle, Robert Michael. Chasing monarchs: migrating with the butterflies of passage. First Yale University Press edition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. 319 p.  
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 P95 2014
LCCN: 2013954244

“Chasing Monarchs chronicles Pyle’s 9,000-mile journey to discover firsthand the secrets of the monarchs’ annual migration. Part road trip, part outdoor adventure, and part natural history study, Pyle’s book overturns old theories and provides insights both large and small regarding monarch butterflies, their biology, and their spectacular migratory travels.” (Summary provided by the publisher.)

Schappert, Phillip Joseph. The Last Monarch Butterfly: Conserving the Monarch Butterfly in a Brave New World. Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books, 2004. 113 p.
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 S23 2004
LCCN: 2005357220

“The book documents the monarch's life cycle to provide a clear understanding of its natural condition including its migratory nature. Easy-to-understand text is illustrated with thirty bright, colorful photographs….The Last Monarch Butterfly is the definitive environmental reference on this endangered species.” (Summary provided by the publisher.)

Urquhart, Fred A. The monarch butterfly. Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1960. 361 p.
LCCN Call Number:
LC Call Number: QL561.N9U7 LCCN: 60004304

“This personal, engaging work summarizes more than forty years of research by Dr. Fred Urquhart, the scientist who discovered the migration patterns and the major overwintering sites of the monarch butterfly.” (Summary from the back cover.)

Turley, Windle. The Amazing Monarch: the Secret Wintering Grounds of an Endangered Butterfly. Dallas, TX: BenBella Books. 2010. 112 p.
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 T87 2010
LCCN: 2010041274

The Amazing Monarch is a visual tour through the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. The oversized book contains numerous full-color photographs exquisitely capturing the monarch wintering grounds.


Titles Suitable for Younger Readers

Catt, Thessaly. Migrating With the Monarch Butterfly. 1st ed. New York: PowerKids Press, 2011. 24 p.
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 C37 2011
LCCN: 2010030647

“Monarch butterflies are among the most colorful and familiar insects children encounter. These delicate creatures can travel between 50 to 100 miles a day to complete their annual migration. This beautiful book is full of interesting information about these butterflies and their incredible journey.” (Summary provided by the publisher.)

Edwards, Roberta. Flight of the Butterflies. New York : Grosset & Dunlap, 2010. 47 p.
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 E35 2010
LCCN: 2009031271

"This easy reader follows the 2,500 mile-long journey of the Monarchs, with both full color illustrations and photographs." (Summary provided by the publisher.

Monarch butterfly egg,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Digital Library

Frost, Helen and Leonid Gore. Monarch and Milkweed. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008. Unpaged.
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 F75 2008
LCCN: 2006034159
“The exacting prose and jewel-toned illustrations echo the harmony of monarch and milkweed in this carefully researched book, explaining one of nature's most spectacular displays in a refreshingly simple manner.” (Summary provided by the publisher.)

Harvey, Diane Kelsay. Melody’s Mystery = El Misterio de Melodía. Wilsonville, OR: Beautiful America Pub. Company, 1991. Unpaged.
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 H37 1991
LCCN: 91004557

“By telling the life story of Melody, this book teaches readers and listeners about both the life cycles and unique migration phenomenon of monarch butterflies.” Text in English and Spanish. (Summary from back cover.)

Herberman, Ethan. The Great Butterfly Hunt: the Mystery of the Migrating Monarchs. New York, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1990. 48 p.
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 H47 1990
LCCN: 90031571

“The Great Butterfly Hunt follows scientist[s] and…butterfly hunters as they close in on the disappearing butterflies and solve one of nature’s greatest mysteries. (Summary from back cover.)

Hirsch, Rebecca E. Monarch Butterflies: a Generational Journey. New York, NY: AV2 by Weigl, 2017. 32 p.
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 H57 2017
LCCN: 2016004430

“This [book] explores the physical features, behaviors, and histories of migratory animals with easy-to-read text and vivid images. This is an AV2 media enhanced book.” (Summary from back cover.)

Hirsch, Rebecca E. Monarch Butterfly Migration. Mankato, MN: The Child's World, 2012. 32 p. LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 H57 2012
LCCN: 2011940087

“Explains how monarch butterflies live and grow; discusses their migration, its purpose, and its route; and lists the different types of migrations animals make.” (Summary provided by the publisher.)

Katz Cooper, Sharon. When Butterflies Cross the Sky: the Monarch Butterfly Migration. North Mankato, MN: Picture Window Books, a Capstone imprint, 2015. 24 p.
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 K38 2015
LCCN: 2014024412

"When Butterflies Cross the Sky engages readers with a story-like narrative while subtly teaching the role of migration in the butterfly's life cycle. Includes a "fast facts" page, a glossary, and realistic, text-match illustrations that pull readers right into the sky." (Summary provided by the publisher.)

Lavies, Bianca. Monarch butterflies: mysterious travelers. 1st ed. New York: Dutton Children's Books, 1992. Unpaged.
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 L38 1992
LCCN: 92028337

Text and photographs describe the physical characteristics, life cycle, migration, and study of monarch butterflies.

Scrace, Carolyn. The Journey of a Butterfly. 1st American ed. New York: Franklin Watts, 2000. 29 p.
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 S27 2000
LCCN: 98028652

“Clear, colorful illustrations…depict the different stages of the journey, and provide a starting point for discussion and further exploration. The book also includes a map showing the migration route, and a useful information section.” (Summary from back cover.)

Slade, Suzanne. A Monarch Butterfly's Journey. Mankato, MN: Picture Window Books, 2012. 24p.
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL561.D3 S53 2012
LCCN: 2011006548

“Where did that butterfly come from? And where is it going next? A monarch butterfly's journey is filled with crawling and crunching, flapping and floating. Pack your bags, and get ready to follow it!” (Summary provided by the publisher.)


Journals and Articles

American Entomologist
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL461 .E56
LCCN: 90656333

Brower, Lincoln P., Ernest H. Williams, Pablo Jaramillo-López, David R. Kurst, Daniel A. Slayback, and M. Isabel Ramírez. Butterfly mortality and salvage logging from the March 2016 storm in the monarch butterfly biosphere reserve in Mexico.External Link v. 63, no. 3, September 1, 2017: 151-164.

LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL671 .A82
LCCN: 85641202
Library of Congress E-Resources Online Catalog

Bryce, Emma. Monarch butterflies dwindle as triple threat rises.External Link March 19, 2013.

Monarch caterpillar,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Digital Library


Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QH1
LCCN: sn 97001942
Library of Congress E-Resources Online Catalog
Freedman, Micah G., Hugh Dingle, Christine A. Tabuloc, Joanna C. Chiu, Louie H. Yang, and Myron P. Zalucki. Non-migratory monarch butterflies, Danaus plexippus (L.), retain developmental plasticity and a navigational mechanism associated with migration.External Link v. 123, no. 2, January 15, 2018: 265-278.

Pierce, Amanda A., Jacobus C. de Roode, and Leiling Tao. Comparative genetics of Na+/K+-ATPase in monarch butterfly populations with varying host plant toxicity.External Link v. 119, no. 1, September 1, 2016: 194-200.

LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QH1 .A277
LCCN: 82643645
Library of Congress E-Resources Online Catalog

Gustafsson, Karin M. Latest news on the monarch butterfly.External Link v. 65, no. 12, December 1, 2015: 1190-1192.

Gustafsson, Karin M., Anurag A. Agrawal, Bruce V. Lewenstein, and Steven A. Wolf. The monarch butterfly through time and space: the social construction of an icon.External Link v. 65, no. 6, June 1, 2015: 612-622.

Sarkar, Sahotra. What is threatening monarchs?External Link v. 67, no. 12, December 1, 2017: 1080.

LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QH540 .E3
LCCN: 21017038
Library of Congress E-Resources Online Catalog

Bartel, Rebecca A., Karen S. Oberhauser, Jacobus C. de Roode, and Sonia M. Altizer. Monarch butterfly migration and parasite transmission in eastern North America.External Link v. 92, no. 2, February 2011: 342.

Integrative & Comparative Biology
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL1 .A448
LCCN: 2002211940
Library of Congress E-Resources Online Catalog

McKay, Alexa F., Vanessa O. Ezenwa, and Sonia Altizer. Unravelling the costs of flight for immune defenses in the migratory monarch butterfly.External Link v. 56, no. 2, August 1, 2016: 278-289.

Satterfield, Dara A., Francis X Villablanca, John C. Maerz, and Sonia Altizer. Migratory monarchs wintering in California experience low infection risk compared to monarchs breeding year-round on no-native milkweed.External Link v. 56, no. 2, August 1, 2016. 343-352.

Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: QL541.L45
LCCN: 56023725
Library of Congress E-Resources Online Catalog

Brindza, Larry J., Lincoln P. Brower, Andrew K. Davis, and Tonya Van Hook. Comparative success of monarch butterfly migration to overwintering sites in Mexico from inland and coastal sites in Virginia.External Link v. 62, no. 4, 2008: 189-200.

Williams, Jennifer J., Douglas Stow, and Lincoln P. Brower. The influence of forest fragmentation on the location of overwintering monarch butterflies in Central Mexico.External Link v. 61, no. 2, 2007: 90-104.

LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: Q1 .N2 QC1
LCCN: 12037118
Library of Congress E-Resources Online Catalog

Zhan, Shuai, Wei Zhang, Kristjan Niitepold, Jeremy Hsu, Juan Fernández Haeger, Myron P. Zalucki, Sonia Altizer, Jacobus C. de Roode, Steven M. Reppert, and Marcus R. Kronforst. The genetics of monarch butterfly migration and warning colouration.External Link v. 514, October 16, 2014: 317-321.

LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: Q1 .S35
LCCN: 17024346
Library of Congress E-Resources Online Catalog

Merlin, Christine, Robert J. Gegear, Steven M. Reppert. Antennal circadian clocks coordinate sun compass orientation in migratory monarch butterflies.External Link v. 325, no. 5948, September 25, 2009: 1700-1704.

PloS one
LCCN Permalink:
LC Call Number: Q179.9
LCCN: 2006214532
Library of Congress E-Resources Online Catalog

Zhu, Haisun, Amy Casselman, and Steven M. Reppert. Chasing migration genes: a brain expressed tag resource for summer migratory monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus).External Link January 9, 2008.



Find additional works on monarch migration at the Library of Congress by browsing the Online Catalog for subjects beginning with “Monarch butterfly” or using the links below.

Animal navigation

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly--Life cycles


Monarch butterfly--Conservation

Monarch butterfly--Migration

Milkweed butterflies

Monarch butterfly--Juvenile literature

Monarch butterfly--Wintering



Digital Collections

American Museum of Natural History External Link
Select monarch images from various artists

American Philosophical Society Library External Link
Nineteenth century collection of still images by Titan Ramsay Peale

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Digital Library
Monarch butterfly photo library

Winter Butterflies in Bolinas
Barber, Mary D. Winter Butterflies in Bolinas. San Francisco: P. Elder, 1918. (Source: Biodiversity Heritage Library)

Monarch butterfly on common milkweed,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Digital Library

General Resources

Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution
Exhibition site from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) External Link
Effort to collect, store, and share species information and occurrence data

The Butterfly Website External Link
Extensive clip-art collection, photographs, videos, butterfly gardening tips, etc.

The Children’s Butterfly Site External Link
Variety of butterfly and monarch resources for children from BAMONA

Flight of the Butterflies External Link
Film site for Flight of the Butterflies 3D - educational materials included

The Lepidopterists’ Society External Link
Non-profit international organization that promotes the study and appreciation of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus), National Park Service
Information regarding monarch migration including a map of monarch migration patterns in the United States

Monarch Butterfly: North America’s Migrating Insect External Link
From the U.S. Forest Service, a PDF document highlighting monarch migration, habitat and conservation efforts

North America Butterfly Association (NABA) External Link
Non-profit formed in 1992, working to preserve and educate people about the importance of butterflies


California Monarch Campaign External Link
From Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, information regarding monarch migration, biology, threats, conservation and more

Importance of Fall Nectar Plants for the Monarch Butterfly
From the City of Austin, TX, advice on choosing native plants helpful to monarch butterflies

Monarch Butterflies, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS)
Conservation practices that benefit monarch butterflies and other insects

The Monarch Butterfly & Other Insect Pollinators
Various resources from Texas Parks & Wildlife addressing monarch conservation efforts in the state

The Monarch Butterfly: One of the Most Recognizable Species
From U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Ecological Services, efforts to conserve and improve the monarch butterfly population in the Southwest Region

Monarch Conservation in America’s Cities: A Solutions Guide for Municipal Leaders External Link
Patrick Fitzgerald, National Wildlife Federation

Monarch Larva Monitoring Project External Link
"A University of Minnesota based citizen science project to track monarch[s]...throughout North America”

Updated by Jessica Law, 2018

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