Tagging the Monarchs (butterflies)

By: 
Wade Young, Montgomery Messenger

Bella Ausmus of Montgomery, releases close to 30 Monarch butterflies after they were tagged at the Ney Nature Center on Saturday. (Wade Young photo)

Fluttering orange and black wings speckled with white spots make the monarch butterfly an unmistakable creature to many in Minnesota and the United States.

This time of year, the seasonal changes signal to the beautiful Monarch to begin its amazing migration hundreds of miles to the remote mountains in Central Mexico.

To help understand that behavior and science and to track their migration route, the Ney Nature Center hosted a free monarch butterfly tagging on Saturday. Jacci and Caleb Jenks, who work for the Center, led the program. They had collected close to 30 roosting butterflies the morning before and kept them in a net butterfly cage.

“They’re much easier to get that way (roosting) than when they’re fluttering around,” Jacci explained.

One by one, Caleb gently collected the butterflies and identified their gender (males have black spots ontheir hind wings, which are actually specialized scales). As he held each between his thumb and index finger, a volunteer affixed an all-weather tag on the butterfly's large mittenshaped hindwings. The tag has a series of unique codes for each tagging season and is printed with permanent ink. These lightweight, circular tags with a pressure-sensitive adhesive backing were designed specifically for tagging monarchs.

He explained this tagging method and location on the wing does not....

To see more on this story pick up the September 12, 2019 print edition of the Messenger.

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