Archive for Sunday, September 21, 2008

Butterflies tagged for Mexico migration

Annabell Davis, 9, center, stalks a monarch butterfly during a tagging event at the Baker Wetlands. The Jayhawk Audubon Society and Monarch Watch coordinated the event, in which participants caught and tagged butterflies for tracking purposes during their annual migration. About 500 people helped with the project on Saturday morning.

Annabell Davis, 9, center, stalks a monarch butterfly during a tagging event at the Baker Wetlands. The Jayhawk Audubon Society and Monarch Watch coordinated the event, in which participants caught and tagged butterflies for tracking purposes during their annual migration. About 500 people helped with the project on Saturday morning.

September 21, 2008

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Act like a praying mantis.

That was the message Kansas University ecology and evolutionary biology professor Chip Taylor gave to about 500 people who took part in the tagging of monarch butterflies Saturday at the Baker Wetlands.

"To catch a butterfly, you have to act like a praying mantis," moving stealthily to catch the monarch by surprise, he told parents and children gathered at one of the 10 or so "butterfly schools" he conducted during the morning. He showed them the proper way to catch the butterflies, then how to gently pinch their wings to apply an adhesive tag with a six-character code that allows researchers to track monarchs originating from Lawrence.

Taylor, director of KU's Monarch Watch, said he was "overwhelmed" by the attendance, which rivaled a similar event two years ago. He said the gorgeous Saturday weather helped attract earnest butterfly hunters, who were given clipboards with data sheets and stickers with which to tag monarch butterflies fluttering around the wetlands.

The butterflies will soon embark on their annual migration to Mexico, and Taylor and other butterfly watchers use the tags to study migration and population trends.

"There are a lot of things we're learning," he said, including how butterflies' points of origin - be it Kansas or Canada - affect their survival during migration. Taylor and his peers will tag about 40,000 monarch butterflies this year.

"We wouldn't know (unless) there were a lot of taggers," Taylor said. The hundreds who came to the wetlands make up only a small portion of the taggers Monarch Watch works with annually, as many as 100,000 people.

Five-year-old Anika Powers and her parents, Teri and John, caught four monarch butterflies Saturday. Anika, a young butterfly aficionado who counts monarchs and viceroys as her favorites, was busy inspecting different plants, looking for monarchs.

"When she was tagging them, she was like, 'All right, we got one!'" Teri said. "It was exciting to tag them. She understands that they migrate to Mexico."

But for Anika, tagging and releasing the monarchs isn't the best part.

"Their wings are really soft," she said, before bounding off to chase another butterfly.

Comments

bondmen 6 years, 9 months ago

I tagged mine with Palin for President lipstick!

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 9 months ago

It's sooooo hard to spray paint those little wings, but well worth the turf acquisition.

50YearResident 6 years, 9 months ago

Did any of the Monarchs make it out alive after being caught multiple times and their wings squeezed by 500 kids with nets? There hasn't been enough monarchs this year for 5 taggers to catch. Have any locally tagged ones ever been recovered in Mexico still alive?

Danielle Brunin 6 years, 9 months ago

50YearResident,Good questions, but I don't think you're grasping the large area where these monarchs were being tagged. My child and I were there and of the ones we caught, there were none that had already been tagged. The monarchs aren't stupid; they were congregating in areas where there were the fewest people, which were the areas most difficult to get to. Also, these butterflies move extremely fast and the chances of a child being able to catch one with a net is not great. Kids get to participate, but honestly, it is the parents who ultimately capture and tag the monarchs. As for recoveries, here is a link to recoveries for 2007.http://www.monarchwatch.org/tagmig/2007seasonMXrecoveries.htmlYou should check it out for yourself next year! It was a gorgeous morning and between all the birds and everything, it was breathtaking. The monarchs were just a bonus!

bondmen 6 years, 9 months ago

which it's not. It's only fairy tales believed by anti-theists who promote random mutation and chance as able to organize or create anything but chaos!

gr 6 years, 9 months ago

From rodent's link site: "This method has proven to be very effective - the rate of tag recovery seems to be higher than for monarchs tagged on the wing margins (an older method). The discal cell position is closer to the center of lift and gravity for the butterfly and will not impede flight. More importantly, this tagging method appears to be less harmful to the butterflies."Ooops, maybe some have met their deaths from tagging of past years.Key words: "less harmful"Wonder why they do something that could be potentially harmful? Maybe it's to answer questions. Questions that really bother some people."Unlike most other insects in temperate climates, Monarch butterflies cannot survive a long cold winter."Anyone wonder why after billions of years, Monarch's did not "evolve" the ability of "most other insects" to be able to survive winters?"Amazingly, they fly in masses to the same winter roosts, often to the exact same trees."Has anyone attempted to find out why these "exact same trees"? Do the tree give off some attraction or why would these butterflies which have never been there before go to the same trees?"Another unsolved mystery is how Monarchs find the overwintering sites each year. Somehow they know their way, even though the butterflies returning to Mexico or California each fall are the great-great-grandchildren of the butterflies that left the previous spring. No one knows exactly how their homing system works; it is another of the many unanswered questions in the butterfly world."Simply amazing if it's all created from random mutations!

tanaumaga 6 years, 9 months ago

most of our ancestors were 'illegal' as well pal. don't forget that.

wysiwyg69 6 years, 9 months ago

to bad they can't figure out a way to send back an illegal with each butterfly!

TS20twenty 6 years, 9 months ago

I commend Orely (Chip) and his mission; this is a great way to study the monacrchs and a way to make them not exinct.

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