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Training Opportunities

1. Tagging

Tagging Monarch butterflies is only done on the Fall migrating population. For the eastern population, this includes butterflies actively flying from late August through October.  Tagging is a means for researchers to study the population density and migratory habits. If you're lucky, you'll learn how far your tagged butterfly flew. 

 

To order tags visit Monarch Watch. Learn how to safely handle and tag your migratory Monarch by visiting my Podcast on Tagging Monarchs on this site. 

2. OE Study

One of the threats to healthy Monarch butterfly caterpillars are microscopic single-celled protozoans. Their full name is: Ophryocystis elektroscirrha or OE for short. Discovered in the late 1960's, these protozoan spores are deadly to adult Monarch butterflies. Our service includes training on how to safely remove spores and submit them to the University of Minnesota where an ongoing study of this infestation continues.  

The University will provide a report back to you on the density and severity of the Monarch's in your garden from which you tested. 

2021 Tagged.jpg

Pictured here is a Monarch recently tagged. Each tag has a unique ID # to your name and location. Tagging is most easily done an hour after your butterfly has emerged from its chrysalis. 

Tags are specially designed to stay affixed and not harm in the normal flight of Monarchs. 

Ophryocystis-elektroscirrha-OE-infection-of-a-monarch-butterfly-Adult-monarchs.jpg

 

Courtesy:researchgate.net/publication

 

Protozoan spores inhibit normal development leaving the butterfly deformed leading to a shortened life. 

Scale study for OE.jpg

An actual card with 8 study subjects. Scales along with protozoan spores are removed and adhered to clear tape for microscopic analysis. 6 of these samples came back positive for OE. 

 

3. Parasitoid Study

 

Despite Monarch butterfly caterpillars being highly toxic, nature has found a loophole in this defense. Numerous types of flies and wasps prey upon caterpillars laying their eggs in living caterpillars. The larva eat their way out until they emerge from the caterpillar as full-grown worms on their way to become winged insects. Parasitic flies are a common and wide-spread threat and a significant reason why only 1 in 200-300 Monarch eggs make it to adulthood 

Its not your fault.jpg

 

One might wonder what

happened to a caterpillar that

was about to enter its final metamorphosis. Inside, as many

as 11 fly larva eggs hatched inside

this caterpillar and ate their way out. 

Larva fall out of the caterpillar on strands of liquid and tissue. Each will crawl around until they enter their 3rd stage of life. 

It's not your fault this is your outcome.jpg

To the right we see parasitoid fly eggs. 

Each egg will hatch

into an adult fly. 

Parasitic fly eggs.jpg

Finally the adult fly emerges within 2 weeks of invading its host ready to begin the parasitic cycle again. 

Parasitic fly.jpg

4. Transplanting Milkweed

The title itself is an oxymoron, however, with a careful approach, most species of milkweed can be relocated. An understanding of the root structure is needed as well as careful timing of the year can result in successful transplantation. As a general rule however, milkweed do not like to be disturbed.  If you have no choice, or want to take a chance, there are certain times of the year when the risk of transplanting is less. We can help you. 

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