The Monarch Monitoring Project is a long-term study on monarch migration through Cape May, NJ. It is a part of the New Jersey Audubon Research Department, and closely affiliated with the Cape May Bird Observatory.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Picture Tutorial of Tagging

Hello! As the number of Monarchs around continues to diminish, there is much more time in between tagging each butterfly. Here are some pictures of the tagging process that demonstrate what we've been up to during the season; over 3,000 Monarchs have been tagged by us this year!

1. Catch a Monarch in a butterfly net. It's easiest to target the stationary, nectaring ones. Record which type of plant the Monarch was caught on.

2. Determine the gender of the Monarch. The abdomen of the male terminates in a pair of claspers (cerci) that the female lacks. The hind wings of the male also contain two raises spots called the androconial patches that store and release hormones. In additional, the veins in the hind wings of the male are thinner and less pronounced than in the female's hind wings.

Female on left; Male on right
3. Assess fatness of the butterfly by observing the size and consistency of the abdomen. Also assess the wing wear (brightness and intactness of scales and any structural damage to wings, such as bird bites).

4. Measure the length of the fore wing and length of section of the hind wing.

5. Prepare the hind wing and apply the tag (a plastic sticker) to the center of the hind wing (in the discal cell). Record the unique three letter, three number code. Release the Monarch! Adios.

1 comment: