Tagging Butterflies!

Wanting to do more to help the Monarch population, I decided to try tagging the young ones I am releasing. Monarch Watch has a tagging program to help track Monarchs' migration patterns from year to year and the effect of weather, environment, etc. of their numbers. Each butterfly receives a tag code consisting of three numbers and three letters. It is obviously quite small and light so as not to affect flight.

Monarch in Jar
I bring the newly eclosed youngsters into the kitchen workspace. There, they must be sexed and the information recorded on a datasheet. Raising each individual butterfly in it's own jar is a lot of extra work, but serves two purposes. The danger of spreading disease is minimized and it is easier to handle them individually.

Careful handling is very important. Holding Monarch Butterflies are actually quite hardy, but damaging their wings during the process must be avoided. Monarchs can be safely tagged by holding the wings together gently with thumb and forefinger.Holding Monarch The tag is placed over the large distal cell on the underside of the hind wing. Placing it here does not seem to impede flight nor harm the butterflies. The tags used by Monarch Watch are made of polypropylene and are weatherproof. The contrasting color of the tag makes it easier to see.

Releasing Monarch After tagging, I place them in a "castle" to allow time for the butterflies to recover from the stress. The tag is easily seen in this picture.

Shortly thereafter, they are released to fly free!