Thursday, September 8, 2011

Monarch Madness

New adult monarch butterfly on NNVC grounds

On Saturday, September 17, the Nebraska Nature and Visitors Center (NNVC) and Dodge Elementary School in Grand Island team up to present “Monarch Madness.” This monarch butterfly tagging demonstration will begin 1 p.m. and end by 3 p.m. The program is offered free of charge to the public.

Hit the jump to read on...

Monarch butterflies are one of the few insects to migrate with the seasons. Four generations of monarchs are produced per year; three of those live out their entire life cycles in North America, while the fourth makes the fall journey southward. The monarchs in most of North America generally travel to cloud forests in Mexico, with the western population spending winters in coastal California. The migrating generation then makes its way northward in spring and the cycle repeats.

While the journey of the monarchs is justly famous, much remains to be learned about it. How do they find their wintering grounds? To help scientists, amateur entomologists tag monarchs as they migrate, recording when and where the monarch was captured. Tagged monarchs that are later recovered may offer clues as to what routes they use while traveling southward.

Integration Specialist Jan Tell will bring 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students from Dodge Elementary; the students – seasoned monarch-tagging veterans – will show visitors how monarchs are tagged. Visitors are then welcome to try their hand at capturing and tagging. Tagging data will be recorded and sent to Monarch Watch, hosted by the University of Kansas.

NNVC Assistant Director Dan Glomski says, “I remember when clouds of monarchs were visible in the fall just looking from my backyard. Recent numbers are way down partly due to habitat loss, both here and in Mexico. Last year I hardly saw any. This year numbers here look a little better, but are still quite low compared to just a few years ago. It would be a shame to lose this great spectacle of nature. ”

“I'm hoping the data we collect will help bring the monarchs back.”

Located on Interstate 80 at the Alda Road exit #305, the Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center exists to provide a place where people of all ages can connect to nature along the Platte River.

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