Haskell Indian Nations University Indian Country

Saving the Monarch butterfly population One tag at a time

By Sean Parrish

EPA Haskell Tribal Eco-Ambassadors Organization held the 2nd Annual Monarch tagging event on Sunday, September 24, 2017.

The Haskell Organization Waystation program  Kynser Wahwahsuck (Kickapoo), Eco-Ambassador member, stated “We hosted this event to get students involved and excited to tag monarchs! Monarchs are decreasing in numbers due to habitat loss caused by human destruction. The Eco-Ambassadors got a bundle of free milkweed last year and we planted it within our wetlands hoping to attract more butterflies to our campus on their way through Lawrence as they migrate to Central Mexico! This past weekend we tagged 45 monarchs, compared to last year we only tagged 9. ”

Catching the Monarchs

The 20 participants that showed up were educated on how to handle and place a tag, which is a code of three numbers and three letters, onto the underside wing of the butterflies. Then they were given the opportunity to catch, tag, and release the monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) that stopped to feast on flower nectar on their journey down South.

Eco-Ambassadors learned how to tag the butterflies

When they reach their destination in Central Mexico field workers monitor the populations by recording the code on the tag. Around January-March, the information goes to a database on the Monarchwatch.org website, which is an affiliate program with the Kansas Biological Survey, located at the top of the hill, at Kansas University.

A few of the monarchs that were caught and tagged

Special thanks to all the Haskell Tribal EcoAmbassadors who coordinated this event: Dr. Daniel  Wildcat, Dr. Bridgett Chapin, Liz Blackburn, Annalise Guthrie,  Kathy LittleBull, Kynser Wahwahsuck, Ian Gambill, Joseph Zupan, and Josie Muskrat

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