Monarch Migration: Tagging and Mapping

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by Jim Hanson, Manager, Digital Media & GIS

Cool summer nights remind us that fall is soon approaching. For many birds and insects, this means preparing for migration to overwintering sites in southern, warmer climates. Monarch butterflies are part of this group, and at Duke Farms they are just emerging from their pupae. This new group of butterflies are created differently from the ones that laid them during the summer as they are built for strenuous flight. Changes in daylight and temperature during this time of year trigger them to head south.

Throughout the country, scientists and volunteers use tags to track Monarch movement. Tags are placed on the wings of newly emerged Monarchs before they make their journey. They capture butterflies along their migration path and record the unique identity number on the tag. This method provides scientists empirical evidence of the Monarch’s immense migration and helps develop current maps of their migration corridors.

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None of this research would be possible without the assistance of citizen scientists. Anyone can volunteer to help track the movement of these beautiful butterflies! If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Monarch tagger please visit the MonarchWatch website. Also, join us for our Monarch & Meadow Fest on August 20 @ 10am to 2pm where we will be tagging monarchs that are currently in pupae inside our Orientation Center.

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