ButterflyHub Staff

Executive members of the Butterfly Gardens of Saugeen Shores, Melitta Smole, Stewart Nutt and Kerry Jarvis, along with volunteers, have been busy this week tagging Monarch butterflies before their long migration to winter in Mexico.

The Butterfly Gardens of Saugeen Shores along with volunteers planted over 1,400 plants in a series of pods throughout Saugeen Shores this Spring. The pods are located along the Lake Huron shoreline on the Captain Spence trail in Southampton, Saugeen First Nation, MacGregor Point Provincial Park, Perkins Park, and at the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre, all of which have been certified and registered as Monarch Way Stations.

The tagging starts by catching the butterflies in nets, which sometimes is no easy feat. “One of the first things we do is determine whether it is male or female,” said Melitta Smole. The male Monarch has a black dot on each hind wing. “We open the wings ... if there's a dot there then that's a male, no dots it's a female.

“We then gather the tag ... place it in the large discal cell on the hind wing and then we press it down,” said Smole. The butterflies are then released.

The information that is gathered and recorded includes a unique tracking number, the tagging date, sex, location where it was tagged and whether the butterfly is wild or has been reared. The information on the butterflies tag includes an email address and 800 phone number and a unique tracking number.

“We started on August 28,” said Kerry Jarvis. “We've tagged about 20 so far and this is part of our mandate like planting the plants. This is part of the education component.”

Jarvis said that the number of visible Monarchs seems to be higher right now than what they've seen in the last couple of years. “They're starting now to migrate, which is why you're starting to see more visibly flying around as they need to feed and then they'll move down the shoreline and move into the States.” They typically arrive in Mexico near the end of October or the first of November.

Over the winter, people from the University of Kansas go down to Mexico and pay the campesinos, the local country people there, to report the Monarchs found with a tag on. “They know the importance of the Monarch butterfly and also for their economic welfare as well,” Jarvis said.

The tags on the butterflies also help if they die before they reach Mexico so that people can email or phone in and share where they were found, which helps to track the butterflies' migratory path.

You can check out the Butterfly Gardens of Saugeen Shores website HERE

You can check out the University of Kansas Monarch Watch website HERE

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