After flying 39 days and covering 2,900 kilometers, a monarch butterfly tagged in Iowa was recently discovered in Acámbaro, Guanajuato, a few kilometers away from Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.
According to Monarch Watch, which runs a monarch tagging program from its headquarters at the University of Kansas, the butterfly was tagged on September 23 in Dallas County, Iowa, by a member of a local citizen-science group.
Gilberto Ruiz Parra, a Mexican volunteer working with Monarch Watch, found the tagged butterfly on November 1 in the Sierra de los Agustino protected area.
“It’s male and is in excellent condition except for having a thin abdomen,” Ruiz told the newspaper Milenio. “It doesn’t have any significant injuries.”
Monarch Watch’s tagging program, founded in 1992, recruits volunteers from Canada, the United States and Mexico to observe and better understand the monarch’s annual migration between the three countries.
Sighting a tagged monarch in Mexico is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. Each year, Monarch Watch distributes over a quarter million tags to volunteers across North America who tag the monarchs as they migrate through their area. The majority of the organization’s tags are then sighted again in central Mexico. Volunteers go to areas known to be overwintering sites for the butterflies.
During the 2019 migration season, volunteers in Central Mexico found just 658 tags.
Ruiz spotted the tagged monarch in a group he found spending the night in a cluster of California pepper trees. It took some effort to get close enough to it to take a picture for the organization, he said.
“It was difficult to get to them because they were very high and because we’re directed not to touch or disturb them,” Ruiz said.
Source: Milenio (sp)