The Monarch butterflies are heading south

The 2022 fall migration of monarch butterflies has begun, and for the fourth year in a row,
MSRW volunteers will be attempting to tag many of them at Point LaBarbe, just west of St.
Laurie, I and other trained volunteers hope to capture and tag up to 1,000 of the so called
“Super Generation” monarchs that congregate at the point, just before they cross the Straits of
Mackinac on their journey south to central Mexico.
It is hoped that some of these monarchs will make it all the way to Mexico and survive the
winter. In March the survivors will begin the first stage of the spring migration, reaching
northern Mexico or perhaps Texas before they lay their eggs and die. It will take several more
generations of monarchs to reach the upper Great Lakes and in late summer the next Super
Generation will appear and begin that long migration south.
During the 2021 fall migration, MSRW volunteers tagged 511 monarchs at Point LaBarbe and, of
those, a total of five tags were encountered elsewhere. Two monarchs that were tagged on
September 9 th , were seen in the St. Ignace area a day or two later. One female monarch that
was tagged on August 31 st was encountered five days later, about 60 miles south, near Torch
Lake in Forest Home Township, MI.
We were also excited to learn that two tags were recovered this winter, over two thousand
miles south in central Mexico. One was from a male monarch tagged on August 31 st and found
in the El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. Another was from a male tagged on September
5 th and recovered at the Cerro Pelon Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary.
Plan on visiting the hawk watch site at Point LaBarbe this fall to observe the thousands of
migrating hawks as they cross the Straits of Mackinac. And while you are there, watch for us
monarch taggers, wandering the fields and shoreline with butterfly nets in hand. We would love
to show you how we tag these amazing long-distance travelers.

Jeff Dykehouse August 15, 2022

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