Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Monitoring Monarchs

Our local library had a class today about monarch butterflies.  The guest speaker owns a monarch farm.  It never occurred to me that people raise butterflies as a career!   There were only a handful of folks there, several apparent homeschool families (I'm guessing since the event was at 1:30 in the afternoon).   After the PowerPoint presentation, we went outside and tagged and released about 15 butterflies.

I learned a great deal myself.  I had always been told that if you touched a butterfly that the wings would be damaged and it could no longer fly.  Wrong...as you're about to see touching them is not a problem!  Also, the lady explained that she keeps the monarchs refrigerated for a couple of days at a time so that they are less active prior to the releasing programs.   We learned how to tell the difference between male and female butterflies.  The females have darker/thicker veins in their wings and are brighter colored.  The males have a scent sack on each wing.

To hold a butterfly properly, you hold its wings together close to the top, as shown in this photo.

Can you tell Olivia was just a BIT excited???

In this next photo, you can actually see Lindsey and the butterfly farmer (her name escapes me at the moment) placing a tag onto the butterfly.

Here are a couple of photos of butterflies after their release.  Some were more anxious to leave than others.

You can see the tags on the last two photos above, if you look closely to the underneath side of the butterfly.

This is the lovely garden area where all of the butterflies were set free.   The water bubbling in the  lovely fountain in the middle was such a welcoming sound.   Sadly, I had never noticed this little garden area at our library before. 

The monarch farmer (I even asked her name a 2nd time, and still forgot....grrr) will submit all the tracking information at the end of migrating season.  If our butterfly is found and reported, she'll be contacted, and then she'll contact us.  Although, the chances of that happening out of MILLIONS of butterflies are slim to none.   But it sounded so thrilling to the kids at the time!

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