Having a Blast!

Tagged Monarch in ClassroomJamestown Audubon has been doing classroom programs for decades.  Many of the presentations are stand-alone, so sometimes we see a class once for 45-60 minutes and then never again.  Over the last couple of years, we have been making a conscious effort to switch to a format that we feel will be more effective at making real impact… and that will simply be a lot more fun for us!

My project in this vein involves 5 third grade classes at a local elementary school.  I will be working with them on a variety of natural science projects throughout the year.  To kick the year off, the teachers opted to do their Painted Ladies butterfly unit.  My contribution was to bring along the Butterfly Lady (aka Monarch Mama, or Barb) to teach the kids about Monarchs, so they could compare and contrast them with the Painted Ladies.  Barb found us enough Monarch caterpillars so that each classroom could have one.

Tagged Monarch in Classroom

Miraculously, the Monarchs and almost all the Painted Ladies emerged within a few days of each other.  I went to their classrooms today to tag the Monarchs and assist with the release.

Mrs. Reynolds Reviews Butterfly Life Cycle before Release
Mrs. Reynolds reviews the Painted Lady life cycle before the release.

Student Investigates Painted LadyThe kids were very excited to see the butterflies go free.  Of course, when you first release them, they don’t take off immediately.  They fly a bit, then land in the grass or on a flower.  It didn’t take long for the kids to discover that they could gently slide a finger under the feet of a Painted Lady and entice it to crawl up.

Most of the flowers in the butterfly garden are starting to go to seed.  There were a few that still looked fresh enough to have nectar.  We placed the Monarchs on these.



Tagged Monarch in Garden

I know it is such a loooonnnngggg shot.  But it would be soooooo cool if one of the tagged butterflies made it all the way to Mexico and we heard back about it, wouldn’t it?

I hope these kids remember this day for a long time.  I know I will.

There are lots more pictures at my Flickr site.

5 thoughts on “Having a Blast!

  1. Recovering a tagged monarch is not as much a long shot as it used to be. The Monarch Watch now recovers about 1 in 70-80 monarchs tagged–a remarkable stat–due to actually paying for tag recovery. It’s very expensive for the Monarch Watch and for that reason the Monarch Watch is always in need of funds. The money goes directly to the local residents. My classes have had several recovered. Your chances in New York of having recoveries will greatly increase if you do your tagging in Sept., though. It’s getting a bit late in the year, now. However, we have had recoveries from monarchs tagged this late. I’ve got to say that as co-founder of the Monarch Watch I get a real kick out of seeing photos of kids and tagged monarchs. Thanks


  2. This is maybe a rather frivolous comment but I had wondered what butterfly tags looked like. How neat it is to understand how they are tagged. As a previous retired elementary teacher I can appreciate how wonderful this project must have been!! Wow! Great job!

  3. @KSBioTeacher: How cool that you are co-founder of MonarchWatch! On August 30th, our Center hosted a monarch butterfly room. (I was out of town and couldn’t attend.) Barb released butterflies into a room at the Center and then we let folks come in to see them. She tagged them all and released them. Maybe one of these will be recovered! Very cool! We do the butterfly room as a fundraiser for Audubon. But maybe next year, we can donate some of it to MonarchWatch! That would be awesome.

  4. This is a great story Jennifer. I’m glad you can share the knowledge and appreciation of butterflies and nature with these kids.
    I finally sent my monarch tagging sheet back last week. I was able to tag 19 monarchs this year–14 of which were raised from eggs or caterpillars on my kitchen counter. I’m with you–it would be really cool to know that one of my tagged monarchs was recovered in Mexico.

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