Xplor More: Tag a Migrating Monarch

By | August 1, 2010
From Xplor: Aug/Sept 2010

In mid-September orange-and-black monarch butterflies flutter south to Mexico. You can help biologists track their movements by catching migrating monarchs and putting identification tags on their wings.

  1. Don’t bother trying to net butterflies that flutter by—monarchs are too quick and wary. Instead, wait for one to land on a flower, sneak up from behind, and quickly sweep your net sideways to pluck if from its perch. Pinch the top of the net to trap the monarch in the deep end.
  2. Fold the monarch’s wings up over its back. Hold the butterfly between your thumb and finger along the edge of its forewings. Be gentle but firm. A few scales might come off, but don’t worry. Monarchs are tough!
  3. Hold the tag by its edge and stick it over the mitten-shaped cell on the monarch’s hindwing. Record the tag number and the monarch’s sex, then open your fingers and watch if flutter away. Order tags and learn more at www.monarchwatch.org.

You can tell this is a male monarch by the little black dots and thin black veins on his hindwings. Females have thicker black veins and no dots.

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This Issue's Staff

David Besenger
Bonnie Chasteen
Chris Cloyd
Peg Craft
Les Fortenberry
Chris Haefke
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Kevin Lanahan
Kevin Muenks
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Alicia Weaver
Cliff White
Kipp Woods