This Saturday, September 9, 2017, as part of a nationwide research project by the University of Kansas called Monarch Watch, the WILD Center will be the site for the annual Winnebago Audubon Society and their families and friends participation in the autumn migration of monarch (Danaus plexippus) butterflies. After a short orientation and a demonstration of the tagging process, participants will spread out over the WILD Center property to catch monarchs. Audubon members will assist successful netters in attaching a numbered tag to the wing of the butterfly, record specific data and then release the monarch. The recorded data will be submitted to Monarch Watch.
Janet Wissink, President of Winnebago Audubon Society, tells me that “these amazing fliers will migrate 1800 miles to spend the winter in the mountains of central Mexico.” No other butterflies migrate like our North American monarchs. Their children’s grandchildren fly in masses to return to the south in the fall, often to the same winter roosts of the grandparents. The monarchs from Wisconsin fly to Mexico, while the coastal monarchs fly south to Florida or Southern California. Here in Wisconsin the monarchs start that journey toward the end of August after they have fattened up on the nectar from late blooming native plants, but they also must seek nectar on their journey south. That’s why it is so important they find good native habitat all along their migration route.
TAG AND RELEASE
Janet also happily mentioned that “monarchs they have tagged in previous years were found in Mexico!”
The best time to tag monarchs is during the fall when they are preparing for migration. Volunteers net the adult monarchs and tag them with tiny stickers that contain an identification code and reporting information. If you see a monarch that has been tagged, contact Monarch Watch to report the observation. If you recover a tagged monarch, record the data and contact Monarch Watch to report the information. This will give them a complete story on the migration.
There are people, however, who raise monarchs from egg or larval stages who tag the adult monarchs before they release them.
There are many ways to participate in the monarch butterflies journey. Here are a few:
Monarch Watch – Tag and Release Program, Monarch Waystation certification program
Journey North – Report sightings of monarchs and emerging milkweeds
Monarch Larva Monitoring Project – Report observations of monarch eggs and caterpillars and milkweed plants
Monarch Joint Venture – Learn about monarchs and what you can do to try to help them from becoming extinct
Wild for Monarchs – Learn about monarchs and developing native habitat
Photo shows Tim Lewis, Past President of Wild Ones, demonstrating how to net a monarch butterfly. Tim says “you need to come up from behind and below the butterfly with the net, and then flip the opening of the net over so you trap the butterfly down in the sock. The motion is a quick swoop, up and over.”
See also How to tag a Monarch butterfly in six easy steps by the Texas Butterfly Ranch.
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