GREENVILLE — Every year, Darke County Parks naturalist staff takes part in the Monarch Watch Tagging Program. This program is a large-scale community science project that was initiated in 1992 to help understand the dynamics of the monarch’s spectacular fall migration through mark and recapture. According to Monarch Watch, tagging helps answer questions about the origins of monarchs that reach Mexico, the timing and pace of the migration, mortality during the migration, and changes in geographic distribution. It also shows that the probability of reaching Mexico is related to geographic location, size of the butterfly, and the date (particularly as this relates to the migration window for a given location).
Last year, over 30 monarchs were tagged and released by Darke County Parks. Some of these were caterpillars that were brought in by members of the community that didn’t have adequate milkweed supply, while others were adults that were caught with butterfly nets and tagged. During two programs last year, “Monarch Tagging,” and “March for Monarchs”, attendees were able to tag and release butterflies with the assistance of naturalist staff. After being tagged and released, monarch butterflies will travel from their summer breeding grounds, over 2,000 miles to their overwintering locations. Members of Monarch Watch visit the overwintering locations, where they purchase the tags from the guides and community members.
These recovered tags are then entered into the Monarch Watch database. Darke County Parks was pleased to discover that one of the monarchs that they tagged last year was recovered in Mexico. Released on September 18, this female monarch traveled 2,100 miles to El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Preserve. This sanctuary is the winter nesting grounds for millions of monarch butterflies that migrate from the U.S. each year. Naturalist Megan Hammaker expressed, “I think the coolest thing about this recovery is that it was tagged and released at one of our programs, so someone that attended that day tagged her. I hope that this news has a lasting impression on them and that they become monarch advocates for life.”
For more information about monarch conservation and tagging, visit https://monarchwatch.org/tagging/ DCP would also like to remind everyone to plant milkweed, the host plant of the Monarch butterfly. Milkweed and other native plants will be available to buy at the Native Plant sale on June 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Bish Discovery Center. For more information regarding the plant sale, contact the Nature Center at 937-548-0165.