Thursday, August 16, 2007

Monarchs Tagged

Well, today was the day. Two monarchs hatched this morning while I was at work. I planned to leave an hour early to come home and mow the lawn, so I worked straight through from 5:30 to 12:30. When I got home I retrieved the monarchs from their cat-proof, safe room (aka the bathroom) and they were ready for release.

I got my tags and instruction sheet and grabbed the first monarch from the ranch. The instructions warned that the tags were very sticky and they were right! I had to fumble with the first tag a little bit but finally got the tag unstuck from my fingertip and attached to her wing. Here she first tagged monarch.

I stuck her back in the ranch for a few minutes while I tagged the second monarch. Here you can see how the tag appears when her wings are open.

The second monarch went much easier, after practicing on my first one. This second monarch was a male.

Then I released both of them outside on this beautiful, sunny afternoon and they flew happily away. I saw a couple of monarchs flying around while I was mowing lawn, but didn't notice any white dots on their wings. I also saw an eastern tiger swallowtail and a black swallowtail.

I trimmed some low-hanging branches from the maple trees after I was done mowing and found an insect I had never seen before. "Oh, this is cool," I said to myself, "now I'll be able to look in my new insect book and find out what this is." And I did--a female Two-Spotted Tree Cricket.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot....4 baby bluebirds hatched in the nest box! They are so cute!


MOM said...

Just turned the computer on and there was a blog from you. That's pretty interesting stuff about the monarchs and their tags. What do people do when they find a tagged monarch? Do they report this to someone? I've never seen a tagged monarch, now I'll really be watching, I know I'll call you, and you can tell me what to do hmmmmm.

Body Soul Spirit said...

I have never held a butterfly and would be afraid of damaging the wings. Lucky you to have more bluebirds. You really have to quit that day job. You have quite enough to do at home!

mon@rch said...

this is soo wonderful seeing you do! We have a few monarch's in the office that we are waiting to do! Keep up the wonderful work!

Jayne said...

How exciting Ruthie!!! Tagging monarchs, identifying crickets, and hatching baby bluebirds! A pretty great day I'd say. :c)

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mom,
I'm going to have to get back to you when I find out what a person does if they find a tagged monarch. I know that my data will be sent in to the Monarch Watch people, so they must keep a database of the tags they send out to people. Stay tuned....

Hi Ruth,
I think what I read as if you're just holding the butterfly and not wiggling your fingers or the wings around, very few of the scales will come off. I try not to let them squirm too much--you might notice on the picture I've let them grab my fingertips with their feet and that seems to help keep them from trying to get away when they have something to hold on to.
I'm excited about the bluebirds. I think this is probably the latest I've ever had them nest.

Thanks Tom. It's not alot, but at least it's something.

Hi Jayne,
It was a pretty great day and I was thankful to be able to enjoy it.

Larry said...

That's really cool Ruthiej!-When I read the title to your post, I thought you were doing one of those memes with Monarch as your next victim.

Saille said...

It's so much fun to find other bloggers who are tagging Monarchs. We live on three acres covered with milkweed, goldenrod and clover, and find monarch caterpillars regularly. My kids and I are tagging them as a homeschooling project. We've released six monarchs so far (five tagged), and have seven chrysalises and four caterpillars as of today. Come visit at

Anonymous said...

I am in Hammond, Louisiana, I have a small flower bed with milkweed. I have 20 caterpillars forming chrysalis and new batch of babies or I assume Stage I. I hope I can get a kit to do some tagging for next year. I use to send caterpillars to school with my kids. I take them to work each fall for our patients to watch them.