Monarch Migration and Tagging

Ney Fall Festival 2013


Monarch Butterflies are of great concern since their numbers are dropping due to lack of habitat and disturbance within their wintering sites in Mexico. Monarchs need our protection, and we are taking action.

For the last few years, we have witnessed an amazing phenomenon here at the Ney Nature Center. About mid-September in the southwest corner of our restored prairie, the monarchs gather and roost. A “roost” is a cluster of butterflies also known as a bivouac. Since Monarchs only travel by day, in the evenings they find places to rest and feed before continuing to make their way south. Monarchs are solitary travelers as they migrate, so why they gather into roosting sites at night is unknown to scientists. Most roosts last for a night or two, however, citizen scientists who have been lucky enough to find a roost have noted a few that have lasted up to two weeks.

Only a few of us have had a chance to see the monarchs roost the last few years here at the Ney Nature Center. In 2015, we began a tagging program, and we need your help. As the monarchs come in to roost, we will be collecting data as well as tagging them.

We have tagged monarchs in the last few years, but the goal last fall was to better understand the roosting here at the Ney Nature Center. This includes an intense few days of tagging, and your help as citizen scientists is needed. We plan to find out if our roost will include monarchs that are hanging out for multiple days or monarchs that are coming in and only spending one night resting and feeding.

2016 Tagging Efforts

Starting Monday, September 5, we will be catching and tagging monarchs we find in the prairie.

If you are interested in joining our team and working with the Ney Nature Center staff to collect data, tag monarchs, and observe them as they roost, please stop out during one of our tagging mornings from 7-11 am.