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Monarch Butterfly Tagging

Visitors Center + Pollinator Garden

1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

No charge with paid parking

What is Monarch tagging?  It’s the process of netting a butterfly, (or raising one from a caterpillar/chrysalis stage), recording the sex of the butterfly, whether it was raised or wild and documenting the number of the sticker that will be affixed to its wing.  These documentation sheets are to be sent on to MonarchWatch.org to assist with their study of monarchs and their migration.

Once in the Idea Garden, Pat Miller, our instructor, will explain in detail, all sorts of facts about Monarchs, their migration and the tagging process.  We will distribute butterfly nets to families that pre-register for this class–everyone will get an opportunity as we will take turns with the loaner nets.  You are also welcome to bring your own net to the session too!  If someone in the group does net a Monarch butterfly they will be instructed on how to apply the sticker (we will supply stickers) to the butterfly’s wing and then release the butterfly back to the wild—with plenty of good wishes from the participants.

You can order your own set of stickers as well as other butterfly related items from MonarchWatch.org  Once you try it–you’ll be hooked!

Interested in a little bit more info?  The below information was taken from the MonarchWatch.org website:

Why do we tag Monarchs?
Many questions remain unanswered about the fall migration of the monarch population east of the Rocky Mountains. How do the monarchs move across the continent, i.e. do they move in specific directions or take certain pathways? How is the migration influenced by the weather and are there differences in the migration from year to year? We need data to answer these questions and we need your help! Only through the cooperative efforts of volunteer taggers will we be able to obtain sufficient recoveries and observations of the migration to answer these questions. Because monarchs have a certain “charisma” and a fascinating biology and because its fun to have an excuse to collect butterflies, this project is also a good way to introduce students to science and have them contribute to a scientific study. Through participation in this project we also hope to further interest in the conservation of habitats critical to the survival of the monarch butterfly and its magnificent migrations.

When do you tag Monarchs?
As the length of daylight shortens in mid August and September, monarchs in northern latitudes, i.e. near the Canadian border, begin to migrate. Monarchs farther south will begin their journey a few weeks later. Tagging and monitoring should begin in late August in all regions, with a concentrated effort made in September and early October. A GOOD RULE: when the wild asters, especially A. novae-angliae, goldenrod and Joe Pye weed are in bloom, the monarchs are migrating. In much of the lower midwest, migrating monarchs are attracted in large numbers to a tall late blooming thistle (Cirsium altissimum) several species of sunflowers and other species of Asteraceae.