Tracking the monarch butterfly's southern flight

Public invited to catch monarchs at the Fossil & Prairie Center to track their southern migration to Mexico for the season

Posted: Sep 16, 2019 1:03 AM
Updated: Sep 16, 2019 11:42 AM

ROCKFORD, Iowa - Colder temperatures will soon be on the way, which means plants will be hibernating. 

And that means the butterflies will be packing up and heading South for the winter.

Right now, it's the peak of the migration season for the monarch butterfly in North Iowa, and this weekend at the Fossil & Prairie Park near Rockford, they're asking for the public's help in collecting and tagging them in order to track migration patterns.

Once tagged, the butterflies' number on each tag will be listed through the group Monarch Watch.

Floyd County naturalist Heidi Reams is the one marking each one collected.

"We typically buy 25 tags. Last year, we filled all those tags, so this year, I upped it and got 50. I would love to get 50 tagged by the end of the migration."

It has been a crazy couple of years for the monarchs, namely due to spring weather around the time they would return to North Iowa. Reams hopes that the monarchs' necessary food sources are ready for when they return next spring.

"We don't want them to come back too early because we don't want them to come back before we have a food source. Once they have laid their eggs, they are particular on only milkweed species, so we need to have those host plants up and going before they come back."

If you do find a monarch butterfly yourself and would like to tag and track them, click here.

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