Many years ago, I decided to get involved with the Monarch Watch Program based at the University of Kansas.
This program is dedicated to Monarch research and encourages volunteers from all over the United States to become citizen scientists.
Since I had already planted milkweed in my garden, the next step was registering my garden as a Monarch Waystation.
A Monarch Waystation is nothing more than a Monarch friendly habitat filled with many milkweed plants (for the eggs and caterpillars) as well as nectar plants (food) for the grownup butterflies.
Not long after I registered my garden, I read about and became interested in the tagging program for the Monarchs.
Tagging a butterfly is a way for scientists to track the migration path of the monarchs. It is also useful for determining how weather plays a role in the migration process. Each tag has a different set of identification numbers. This information is recorded on a separate data sheet by a tagger (me in this case) when you place the tag on the butterfly. When the monarchs leave my area, the data sheet is sent back to the university.
When the Monarchs make it to their winter home in Mexico, volunteers and local workers begin the process of looking through the thousands of butterflies and recording the tag data.
This weekend, my granddaughter and I noticed a few monarchs flying around in the garden. I figured this would be a great time to teach her how to become a Butterfly Wrangler.
First, you need a net (this is different from the armadillo net)
Sometimes Usually the cat distracts us so hang on just a second.
Ok. Once the monarch is netted, we record the information from the tag on the data sheet and place the tag on the under side of the wing.
Then we released our little friend to continue its journey.
This made her one little happy Butterfly Wrangler.
This is a great project for kids, adults, schools, and any other organization that supports nature. As you can see, a three-year old can be taught to handle butterflies and help with tagging.
Most of the butterflies I tag are raised from the caterpillar stage. This weekend, I harvested some very small caterpillars to raise. Will keep you updated on the progress.