Tagging Monarchs

*Behold, crappy phone photos ahead!*





After I started raising the monarch caterpillars last year I read about tagging them with tiny stickers from Monarch Watch so that those counting the fall migration back to their roosts in the mountains of Mexico could attempt to put together the pieces of where the final generations of monarchs came from. Chris ordered some stickers back in the spring or summer and they are all mailed according to where you live in the monarch migration process. So, the further south you are the later you get yours. Considering last year we had monarchs in early August I was a bit disappointed we weren’t getting ours until sometime in late September. However, this year was different than last year and I didn’t have monarchs showing up until mid-October. And then October proved itself to be completely jacked up with cooler, rainier weather, so the migration moved further west on the I-35 corridor or stayed put for a longer period than usual. We had one female that we managed to catch, who laid eggs on my milkweed, and what I think was a male that we were not able to catch. We tagged the female who was rather ragged by that point and I highly doubt will make it to Mexico. But, you never know.

Now that we had a break from that cool, rainy weather the migration has picked back up. I’m starting to see more around town/the state, with a higher percentage being seen by those living along the I-35 flyway. Unfortunately not a lot are coming to my yard—I see them everywhere else! Last Friday on our way home for lunch I noticed a ton of butterflies down along the dam of our pond. Chris and I walked back after we picked up the net and I should have grabbed my camera. Well, the majority of what we thought were monarchs were actually queens, which I was super thrilled about! I haven’t seen queens hanging out around here but I’ve heard from several people around Houston about quite a few queens so I think maybe there is an uptick in them this year.

With all the queens there were gulf fritiliaries and at least one sulphur that I couldn’t identify. And then we found two monarchs! One of them did not want to be caught but Chris worked for the one he managed to catch, as you can see in the photo! We tagged it and released it—hopefully it will make it to Mexico.

Chris was at the zoo last weekend and found a tagged monarch and took a photo of it so I’m going to have to send it in to Monarch Watch/Journey North so they can note that. And he said there were tons of monarchs at our local nursery and I said he should have tagged them! I was out of town for the weekend in central Texas but I saw quite a few monarchs up that way, too.

I have three caterpillars from the eggs that were laid in mid-October that are finally into the voracious chomper phase. It’s taken them quite a long time to get there, normally they would have pupated already. Hopefully we can tag a few more monarchs before the season is over. We shall see!


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