2019 Monarch Tagging Season Wrap-Up!

by Jim Armbruster
Environmental Educator

Female Monarch butterfly
You may have noticed that this year was a big year for monarchs. At VINS, we were right in the middle of what is being called a “banner year” for these butterflies. Now that fall is in full swing, many of them are on their way south for the winter. Hopefully the large numbers of butterflies in the north will equal big numbers of butterflies on their wintering grounds in Mexico. 
Visitors help release a tagged butterfly
This year our tagging season started on August 27th with five individuals caught and given a tiny unique sticker as a tag. The big day was September 3rd when we caught 38! We ran out of tags on September 25th after our 200th butterfly was tagged. That number is more than double last year’s and we continue to see Monarchs in the meadow into this month.
This year we had two Monarch tagging events open to the public. Participants learned how to net and safely handle butterflies while helping staff to tag them. We had around 90 people come out to get involved. Next year we hope to add more tagging events, and even have a special event day to celebrate all things Monarchs!

Now comes the hard part–waiting for recovery reports to filter in. The findings from the wintering grounds will not be posted until next summer. With 200 butterflies our odds of a recovery improve, but with millions of Monarchs that end up in Mexico we may not hear anything back. All we can do is hope for a good migration for all the butterflies heading south!

Environmental Educator Jim Armbruster demonstrating proper Monarch handling technique.

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