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Butterfly tagging event will be Saturday

Locals can help track monarchs heading south

August 18, 2012
By EMILIE NELSON, , Messenger News

BRUSHY CREEK - Mexico will soon see hundreds of thousands of colorful migratory visitors moving in for the winter, but some of them won't arrive without being tagged as having stopped in Iowa along the way.

Monarch butterflies are making their way to their winter climate south of the border, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is hoping to keep track of those that do arrive in Mexico in the coming months.

To help track the bright orange and black butterflies, the DNR and Webster County Conservation are teaming up to hold a butterfly tagging event at the Prairie Resource Center at Brushy Creek State Recreation Area Saturday. The second annual event is open to the public and will give attendees a chance to track and learn more about the migration of the monarch.

"It'd a two-part event," said Bill Johnson, a wildlife biologist with the DNR. "Part of the afternoon will be a program telling about the butterflies and the second part will be the tagging of the butterflies."

Following the program, participants will get the chance to go to the wildflower fields near the Prairie Resource Center to catch and help tag the butterflies.

'The wildflowers were grow here for seed production are also a great attraction for the butterflies," said Johnson. "We will be tagging the monarchs, but there will be a lot of other species out there."

Fact Box

If you go:

What: Monarch butterfly tagging event

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Brushy Creek Prairie Resource Center, 2820 Brushy Creek Road, Lehigh

Cost: Free

Monarch tagging helps biologists track the population of the butterflies and how many survive the migration process.

"The more we can mark here the more easily we can estimate the population," Johnson said. "One thing that amazes me is that when they return to Iowa it's the sixth generation of the ones that left; every sixth generation they still know their way back to the same spot. The ones that go south aren't the ones that return, it's just a wonder of nature that they know that."

The event is free an open to the public for all ages.

"It's fun," said Johnson. "Last year we had a group that really wanted to learn and a group that wanted to catch and tag the butterflies and this is a chance to do both. It's something for the young and old. We've had kids from 3 to 63 come out in the past."



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