I finally saw monarchs in the backyard in late August. Soon after that, I found several small caterpillars on my tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) and butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa). I brought the caterpillars inside, and they eventually made chrysalises. Recently the first butterfly emerged. The dark spots on the lower wings indicated it was a male.
I have wanted for some time to tag a monarch and had ordered tags from Monarch Watch. This is an enlarged photo of one of the adhesive tags. Its actual size is about 1/4th inch, or the diameter of a pencil.
I appreciated a friend, Mary Carol Cooper, holding the butterfly as I placed the tag.
We then released the monarch to go on his way – to Mexico, I hope. I recorded the tag number, date, location, etc. for Monarch Watch’s database. They are especially interested to learn where the butterflies show up in Mexico, and Mexicans receive the equivalent of $5 for each tag they recover. If one of my tags is found, Monarch Watch will let me know.
It was quite satisfying to do my first tagging. Monarch Watch provided excellent instructions and it was relatively easy. However, I think it helps to have two folks involved – one to hold the butterfly and one to place the tag.
Monarchs need our help, and I like doing what I can.