XGT 908, tagged in Cape May Point on 9/8/17
XGS 152, tagged in Cape May Point on 9/11/17
XGT 063, tagged in Cape May Point on 9/21/17
XGY 204, tagged in Cape May Point on 9/22/17
XGY 220, tagged in Cape May Point on 9/23/17
XGS 313, tagged in Cape May Point on 9/23/17
XGR 770, tagged in Stone Harbor on 9/28/17
XGU 904, tagged in Cape May City on 9/30/17
XGU 134, tagged in Cape May Point on 10/10/2017
XGS 711, tagged in Cape May Point on 10/19/17
Like most monarch researchers east of the Rocky Mountains, we use tags issued by the Monarch Watch program, which operates out of the University of Kansas. Many readers of this blog are familiar with the tagging and have seen our tagging demonstrations in Cape May Point each autumn, but we'll supply a bit of information for those who might not know. The tags (shown above) are small, adhesive disks that we apply to the central area of the underside of a monarch hindwing. The process is quick, painless, and doesn't change the flight of the butterfly. The last line on the tag is a unique code that is never repeated -- in recent years the codes consist of three letters followed by three numbers, XGU 774 in the example above. The other lines list an e-mail address (TAG@KU.EDU), the project name "Monarch Watch" in red, and a toll-free phone number (1-888-TAGGING). If you ever see a monarch bearing a tag, try to read the code on that last line (enlarged digital photos can often reveal the tag code) and report the tag number, location, date and time to Monarch Watch either with a phone call or an e-mail message.
More than 5,000 monarchs were tagged in Cape May County by the Monarch Monitoring Project team last fall, so 10 of these butterflies found in Mexico might not seem like very many. But take a look at the photo at left, from late February at the Cerro Pelón Monarch Sanctuary in Mexico. It's impossible to pick out a tagged monarch from these massive aggregations. Most of the tag recoveries from Mexico are from monarchs that perish during the winter months. Even in good years it's estimated that perhaps as many as 10% of the monarchs don't make it through the prolonged period of winter dormancy. The guides who lead tourists at the Mexican Sanctuaries search for monarch wings bearing tags on the forest floor, and are given a small monetary reward for each tag that they find. We believe that the vast majority of tagged monarchs that winter in Mexico are never noticed, and that each recovered tag represents many more that made the trek.
Our 2018 field season will begin during the last week of August, when we will be training our interns. Censuses and tagging begin on September 1, and continue through at least October 31. We are accepting applications for our two intern positions, send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org for the job description and application procedures.
|2017 Interns Rebecca Zerlin and Stephanie Augustine|
educate members of the public at a tagging demonstration.
We are in the midst of our annual fundraising effort, hoping to achieve our goals so that we can purchase tags, print brochures, and cover the salaries and expenses of our two interns. The "CMBO Monarchists" team competing in the World Series of Birding hopes to raise the $12,000 needed for our project budget. We're a little more than halfway to our goal. If you'd like to support our work, please see the details here.