My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

Tagging my first Monarch

Just Hatched Monarch

Just Hatched

While Young Naturalist C was in Cape Cod watching Whales and having a good time at the beach . . . . those of us back in Allegany State Park were butterfly sitting her caterpillars/chrysalis while she was off on vacation. Just last Thursday her oldest Monarch Butterfly emerged from its chrysalis (who Young Naturalist C named Lulu) and so I asked her mother if I could tag my first monarch (C couldn’t be around to tag it).

Up Close

Up Close with a Monarch

This year, Young Naturalist C’s mother (who is a staff naturalist for the park) started tagging Monarch Butterflies during her Butterfly and Allegany Adventure Camp programs that she has been doing. It has been a very successful program for the park with many monarch butterflies flying around this year. Since I am stuck in the office all day . . . . this was my first chances to tag a Monarch (ya ya, I could have ordered some of my own tags)! But, I doubt this will be my last monarch that I end up tagging!!

A 1:15 minute clip of me tagging the Monarch

Lulu (the Monarch) had emerged early in the morning before we made it into the office (reason we missed it coming out). Later in the afternoon once its wings were finally dry . . . . I went to place Lulu into the larger cage practice flying and wait to be tagged. Of course just as I went to close the door it took its first flight around my office. . . . as my boss was asking me to do something in the other room . . . . you can picture the whole scenario of me running around trying to catch this thing (in a very professional manner . . . . ya right!).


The Monarch Tagged

As we were tagging Lulu . . . .the park was having severe thunderstorms moving through the area. If you listen to the video carefully . . . . you can hear some thunder in the background rumbling. So, after tagging her . . . . we placed both butterflies (we had two Monarchs emerge that day) back into the cage awaiting for the rain to end. Then later that day they were released to migrate south to Mexico and for Lulu’s children’s children to return next year (and continue the process all over again).

In the Flight Cage

In the flight cage awaiting its released.

You can also visit Birdchick’s,Erie’s Argonaut’s, Susan Gets Native’s, and Nature Knitter’s post who have also been rising monarch butterflies.

32 responses

  1. jimbeau34

    Great adventure and story….thanks for sharing.


    27 August 2007 at 7:34 am

  2. craftermom

    I didn’t know you could tag a butterfly!

    Looks like a fun time!

    27 August 2007 at 7:38 am

  3. Very interesting. Are there many reports of finding a tag on a butterfly?

    27 August 2007 at 8:30 am

  4. Marg

    How cool-I’d never heard of this til ric mentioned it last year. I’d like to see a video of you running around catching it ;D

    27 August 2007 at 8:45 am

  5. YAY, Tom, your first monarch tagged! Isn’t it amazing?
    I’ve been watching all the monarchs in my backyard to see if any of the tagged ones are still hanging around, but haven’t seen any yet.
    I didn’t name any of mine, it was hard enough just watching them fly away after raising them from the egg.

    27 August 2007 at 9:10 am

  6. @ jimbeau – thanks and glad you enjoyed it!
    @ Craftermom – ya you can and was very fun! You can see others posting those clips by following those links I included. Thanks!
    @ Barb – I have never heard about anyone finding any but I would have to assume those found are the ones on the wintering grounds (when it would be easier to find the tag number).
    @ Marg – without a doubt that would be the funniest thing on the web!
    @ Ruthie – it was wonderful and I don’t normally name them but since Young Naturalist C did, I figured why not post it on the web with her name.

    27 August 2007 at 9:25 am

  7. Congratulations, Tom! Oh, I had a mental picture of you running around your office (in a very professional way) while your boss was asking you to do something…thanks for the laugh! Sounds like something you’d see in a sitcom.

    Great video, as usual. A magical moment, indeed!

    27 August 2007 at 9:38 am

  8. Mary – glad to have made you laugh, working in an office you can really appreciate office things! Thanks and was wonderful for sure!

    27 August 2007 at 2:50 pm

  9. I can’t imagine how delicate you have to be with them to tag them securely but not damage them. Very interesting to see it, though!

    27 August 2007 at 3:14 pm

  10. I wish I would have ordered some tags for my butterflies. Probably next year as I had such fun raising them this year. So the one’s coming out now are going to Mexico? Cool! I thought I had all the caterpillars turned into chrysalises but when I got ready to throw out the milkweed leaves I noticed a little hole in one. Yep, a baby caterpillar. Ok, just one more to go.

    27 August 2007 at 3:39 pm

  11. This is sooooo cool, Tom! What a great experience.
    Yeah, managers have awesome timing, don’t they? I can imagine you scrambling around your office! LOL!!

    27 August 2007 at 4:03 pm

  12. Wow, I also didn’t know butterflies can be tagged. Great story! And I thought it was unbelievable that hummingbirds can be banded…
    And also very, very nice pictures and videos, Mon@rch!

    27 August 2007 at 6:33 pm

  13. rick

    it is so interesting the many different things you do

    27 August 2007 at 7:58 pm

  14. Hi Tom;

    Get your net ready ther’s more on the way!
    No shortage of Monarch’s flying South here in Central Ontario.Over 200 seen today during 3 hours at the Banding Station(No Hawks), and atleast 500 seen the previous 2 days while at the Station.

    27 August 2007 at 9:31 pm

  15. hey, hey, hey I need to shout out here. I raise monarchs, but don’t tag them. By the time I am done I will have released 75 or more. Other than that I had to laugh thinking about you running around the office.

    27 August 2007 at 9:51 pm

  16. I’ve read about tagging Monarchs, but never had an opportunity to see it up close like this. Wow. What an amazing thing it must be to hold a butterfly like that. The best part of the internet is being able to see such a thing. Excellent.

    27 August 2007 at 9:51 pm

  17. @ Marty – I have handled many butterflies so it wasn’t that much of a problem for me but I can see how others would be worried handling them.
    @ Argonaut – I two should have ordered some tags. I am not sure though, do we have to pay for them?? Yes ours coming out now will be making their journey south!
    @ Pam – it was fun for sure and we released another hatched monarch today also! Once we released him he went straight up into the air with no signs of looking back.
    @ Jochen – they sure can! I only wish I was able to band hummingbirds. THANKS
    @ Rick – thanks and it’s what keeps me happy doing so many different things!
    @ Garth – thanks and this weekend I had many flying around me! Still many caterpillars being seen also!
    @ Toni – wow that’s a ton of monarchs and didn’t know you did them also! Hmm have you done any post with them? Will have to go back in your archives!
    @ Robin – thanks and up close is the only way to see these guys! It’s not that big of a deal but you just need to be careful with their scales. I am now always looking for a reason to use the video feature of my camera. Thanks – what would we have done without the internet 15 years ago?

    27 August 2007 at 10:44 pm

  18. yep the last one was this
    but if you go to my blog and on the left top where search is type in monarch and they will all come up.
    I didn’t do to many posts this year because I took a break from blogging in july and part of august.

    27 August 2007 at 10:56 pm

  19. Very cool for you, Tom! Mon@rch and his Monarchs.
    An arboretum near us has received a report that one of the monarchs they tagged was recovered in Mexico!
    Sad news: Every single caterpillar (monarch and milkweed moth) has died simultaneously. And the pupa, which had turned dark a few days ago, has died too. I am assuming it was a parasite or bacterial infection, since they all went at once.
    I don’t know if I will be trying this again. It was so sad….Isabelle (my 5 year old) took it better than I did.
    Not to be a bummer on your blog or anything.

    27 August 2007 at 11:17 pm

  20. @ toni – very cool for sure and hope others take the chance to check out your link! Thanks
    @ Susan – hey stranger . . . . sorry to hear about your monarch’s and I have heard about their bacteria infections and parasites. I don’t mind you educating about down falls of raising monarch’s on my site! I don’t do it myself as much for that very reason but how could I turn down helping my field assistant with her butterflies. It is still stunning thing for kids of all ages to experience.

    27 August 2007 at 11:35 pm

  21. Oh my! That is so amazingly cool I loved the video – right on. And then letting them go… aww geesh.. you’ve got the best job in the universe. I loved watching the her wings dry.

    28 August 2007 at 12:44 am

  22. That is about the most incredibly cool thing I have ever seen!

    28 August 2007 at 5:43 am

  23. How very cool! What would be even more cool is to find out where she ends up. :c)

    28 August 2007 at 6:46 am

  24. Fascinating stuff! I have raised painted ladies, but
    this would be the ultimate! b

    28 August 2007 at 9:33 am

  25. Beautiful, Tom – just beautiful. This technique is a little different than the one I used decades ago with Doris Stifel. In the thirty-odd years that Doris has been studying these insects, she has tagged over 100,000 individuals.

    We actually rubbed the scales off the edge of the bottom wing and folded a tag across that edge. The streamlined method looks simpler, lighter and kinder.

    28 August 2007 at 1:07 pm

  26. Nice! I especially loved the “Off to Mexico!” at the end of the video. 🙂

    28 August 2007 at 1:23 pm

  27. Now that would be a great excuse to give my boss, when she yells at me for something I could tell her just a minute I am chasing a butterfly, I think I will give that a shot and see what happens, thanks for the idea.

    28 August 2007 at 3:22 pm

  28. You really get to do some really cool stuff!-it was an interesting video to watch.-hey wait a minute-A monarch just flew by my living room window with a tag on it!-could it be? -Never mind-just a leaf blowing in the wind.

    28 August 2007 at 6:33 pm

  29. @ Aullori – thanks and it is always fun watching these guys up close . . . . then again its fun being able to be see everything up close.
    @ threecollie – wow, thanks for sure!
    @ Jayne – that would be awesome for sure!
    @ Rebecca – thanks and Painted Ladies are just as awesome butterflies!
    @ Cathy – thanks and I could not even think about tagging over 100,000 monarch’s! I hope she got a few returns~!
    @ Rurality – I liked that also! How could I not include it in the clip!
    @ Berrnie – hope you give it a try for sure!
    @ Larry – thanks and isn’t that the way to enjoy life is doing cool things?

    28 August 2007 at 9:20 pm

  30. Karen

    Hi Tom,

    First time poster, here! I live in the city of Buffalo and have been tagging monarchs for years.

    A few years ago, one of my monarchs (a female) made it all the way to El Rosario, Mexico from here. And the most amazing part….it was one of 8 that I released on 9/11/2001. I received a really cool certificate from Monarch Watch to note the event. It is one of my most prized posessions.

    Thought I’d share the experience!


    h to note

    29 August 2007 at 8:09 pm

  31. @ Karen – thanks so very much for posting and thanks for the wonderful info on your banded monarch’s that you have been working with! I think that is amazing that one of your monarch’s that you tagged in buffalo was recaptured down in Mexico! Its is amazing for sure!

    29 August 2007 at 9:36 pm

  32. My family is in the Adirondack region, and we’re tagging through Monarch Watch this year as well. I am having fun tracking down fellow Monarch-tagging bloggers. Come visit us at

    and I hope you enjoy your Labor Day weekend!

    31 August 2007 at 2:21 pm

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