September Monarch Update

We are approaching the end of the monarch presence for this year as migration is underway. We have noted an uptick in adult monarchs visiting our yard, nectaring on favorite plants such as zinnia, aster, and sedum. Yesterday, two were noted to have tattered and faded wings. They must have travelled far already – perhaps from Canada.

Right now, I have seven chrysalises, one adult that came out of a chrysalis this morning, four larva inside, and two outside in the screened enclosure on the south side of our home. In totality, I have raised 26 monarchs and released them over the course of our short breeding season in Wisconsin. Since tagging season began in mid-August, I’ve been able to tag five with tags purchased from Monarch Watch. I hope they find safe passage with plenty of nourishment on their way to Mexico for overwintering. It would be exciting to find out that one or more of the butterflies I tagged in my yard in Wisconsin made it successfully to the Oyamel Fir Pines in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve!

Yesterday, after blogging, I headed out to take some photographs of our yard. I wandered around the back of our barn where the rough blazing star is starting to bloom. There, nectaring, was a monarch! I approached stealthily and was able to pick it off of the plant, carry it inside, and attach a monitoring tag! It was a female monarch and flew off the minute I was finished placing the tag! So cool!

September Monarch on the move, nectaring on Rough Blazing Star in my yard. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2021

When you tag and report to monarch watch, an essential piece of the information is whether the butterfly you tagged was hand raised (reared) or wild-caught. The vast majority of butterflies I’ve tagged over the years have been hand raised. Two have made it successfully to Mexico and reported found there. This winter I plan to look at my own data from the tagging I’ve done over seven years.

Monarch Tagging Kit for this year from Monarch Watch. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2021.

Today, I’ll be able to tag the monarch that emerged earlier this morning. Then, there will more in the coming days as the chrysalises erupt and the season comes to an end.

Tagged monarch butterfly from several years ago. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2021

Unfortunately, the class I was to teach on Citizen Science and Monarchs was canceled due to lack of interest. While this is somewhat disappointing, it does not change the course of my own actions to help the migration of this iconic butterfly species.

Often asked, what can I do to help the monarchs?

My answer? Plant milkweed – as much as you can!

Common Milkweed Pod. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2021

The text and photos on my blog, unless otherwise indicated, are copyrighted by Carol Labuzzetta. All rights reserved.

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