It’s been a little over two weeks since I made my last monarch update. We are just starting the time of year when the super generation is being born! This is the generation of Monarchs that will migrate to Mexico, overwinter, and start to make the return trip Northward next spring.
Having been on vacation for a week, my monarch activities stalled. I had a good friend with three girls watch my monarch caterpillars and chrysalises for me while we were gone. They have done it before and always do a good job. I returned to have some bonus eggs and caterpillars added to my container!
Right now, I have two separate containers. One has 2 chrysalises, one large caterpillar, 1 medium-sized caterpillar, and three small caterpillars.
My other container has three small caterpillars that hatched from eggs and one chrysalis.
My tags arrived on Monday. I ordered 50 tags (stickers) this year from Monarch Watch. Although I am not having the “bonanza” year I did last year, I am hopeful to use more than one sheet of tags. They come in sheets of 25. I am excited to start tagging monarchs!
This is the fifth year I have tagged. In 2015, I tagged 16 Monarchs. 2016 let me tag two more for a total of 18 that summer. In 2017, I used all my tags and filled a sheet of 25. The following spring, when the data was released, I had two tags recovered in Mexico on Monarchs I had tagged in Wisconsin! I was very excited and hooked more than ever on this citizen science project! Last year, in 2018, I decided to order two sheets of tags or 50 total! I ended tagging 45 in all. Some with my garden club students in the fall and two wild-caught Monarchs, as well! Unfortunately, to date, I have not heard that any were recovered.
But, it doesn’t stop me! I am fortified in knowing I am trying to help this iconic species by providing habitat in my yard, at local schools, and educate the public about monarch conservation, as well as, citizen science. It’s easy! It’s fun! And, it’s rewarding! Over the last four years, I have tagged 104 monarchs. I know that is not a huge number but it is a number that I am comfortable with having done. I’ve had 2 recovered in Mexico. My recovery rate is just below 2%.
Last year I applied my first Monarch tag during the last week of August. I hope it’s a little earlier this year! Now my aim is to teach more community members how to tag and, more importantly, why we do it!