Photo Claire Sunquist ©
Five hundred Monarch butterflies were released at the Butterfly F estival in north Florida the weekend of October 13th and 14th. Each butterfly was marked on its lower wing with a small round adhesive paper tag. The tags have an email address, a telephone number and an individual code.
Tom Emmel, Director of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera at the Florida Museum of Natural History, is trying to find out where the Florida Monarchs spend the winter.
Most of the 2 billion or so Monarch butterflies in the US migrate through Texas to winter in Central Mexico. But no one really knows what happens to the Monarchs that fly down the east coast into Florida.
Most maps of the migration show the Monarchs from the east coast “dead ending” in Florida, because that’s where the records end, but Emmel does not believe that is the case. “If that were so, south Florida would be full of Monarch butterflies” he says. Rather, Emmel thinks the Florida monarchs may fly to Cuba, and then on to the tip of the Yucatan peninsula. But he won’t know for sure until people spot some of his recently tagged monarchs.
So, if you are in Florida this winter, watch for tagged monarch butterflies, and if you are lucky enough to see one, contact one of the numbers on the tag, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the McGuire Center at the Florida Museum of Natural History.
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