Monarch Tagging Program Scheduled

The Winnebago County Conservation Board will be hosting their annual Monarch Tagging program tonight, at the Thorpe Park shelter house. A short program about the Monarch butterfly will be given beginning at 6:00 PM, with the actual tagging running from 6:30-7:30 PM. Thorpe Park is located five miles west of Forest City on “I”/345th Street.

The Monarch butterfly is unique in the insect world for the amazing migration it makes every year. In fact, some Monarch butterflies travel over 2,000 miles to reach their wintering grounds in the mountains of central Mexico! For many years, scientists have been studying this migration to understand how such tiny creatures can navigate and find their way to the same location each year, although they’ve never been there before.

Monarchs also have a unique problem in that they depend upon two very different habitats for their survival—the open fields and prairies of North America for reproduction, and the mountainous forests of Mexico for overwintering. So, scientists are also studying Monarchs to better understand how they adapt to changes in these two distinct habitats. And, with Monarch populations plummeting in recent years, this research is more important now than ever before.

So, the Winnebago County Conservation Board helps with this research by tagging Monarch butterflies each year. If these tagged butterflies are found again, they give the scientists excellent information about where the Monarchs go, how they utilize their environment, and how their population changes over time. And, through the WCCB’s Monarch Tagging program, the public can also help with this research!

People are welcome to come to the talk, the tagging, or both. There will be a limited number of Monarchs available for people who would like to tag a butterfly themselves, but people are also welcome to bring their own Monarchs to tag. Nets will also be available for people who would like to catch Monarchs at the park to tag. In case of inclement weather, the program will be postponed, and that announcement will run on KIOW Radio (FM 107.3) and the WCCB web site (www.winnebagoccb.com), as well as the WCCB Facebook page and Twitter feed.

For more information about the WCCB’s Monarch Tagging program, people can contact Winnebago County Naturalist Lis Ralls at 641-565-3390 or at lralls@winnebagoccb.com.