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Raise a Monarch That Will Go to Mexico!

Article and photo submitted by Jenny Winkelman

Volunteers are needed to raise adult butterflies for the 9th annual Minneapolis Monarch Festival – Festival de la Monarca™ on September 9, 2017.

At the Festival, the University of Minnesota Monarch Lab will release over 100 butterflies marked with a small, weatherproof identification sticker (tag). The tagged adult monarchs, raised from eggs by volunteers, will be part of a large scale study of the monarch’s migration. Monarchs tagged and released at the Festival are raised in small numbers from eggs collected in the wild. These individuals will be physiologically programmed for migration. Also, since wild monarch populations are now perilously small, they are particularly vulnerable to disease or genetic adaptations, which can be introduced from large rearing operations.

A one-and-a-half-hour training teaches volunteers about monarch biology and best rearing practices for each stage of the monarch life cycle. Each person will receive three monarch eggs and all equipment needed to raise an adult from an egg and bring it to the Festival. Two training sessions will be held, both at the Lake Nokomis Community Center, 2401 Minnehaha Parkway, in Minneapolis:

Training Session 1:  Saturday, August 12, 10:00am-11:30pm
   Register here:

Training Session 2:  Wednesday, August 16, 6:00pm-7:30pm
   Register here:

Training costs $5 per person to cover staff time, rearing supplies, and eggs. Class sizes are limited, so register soon! Spanish speakers are welcome. Classes will be conducted in English and training materials are available in both languages.

“Anyone can sign up for a session. We welcome those with zero experience wishing to learn, as well as those with years of experience wishing to ask specific questions or just hone their skills,” says staff at the Monarch Lab. Kids are especially welcome to participate. However, one requirement for successful rearing is access to a consistent source of non-treated milkweed.

Most tagged butterflies are recovered in Mexico, where local residents are hired to find them. However, many more monarchs are tagged than found. Data about these butterflies is collected by Monarch Watch and used to learn about monarch orientation and navigation, and estimate their populations.

The Minneapolis Monarch Festival – Festival de la Monarca™ celebrates the 2,300 mile monarch migration from Minnesota to Mexico, and will take place at Lake Nokomis on September 9 from 10:00am to 4:00pm. This bilingual, family oriented event features hands-on learning, art activities with local artists, and a musical lineup with Salsa del Sol and Ballet Folklorico. The monarch and habitat exhibits offer many ideas for actions that will help preserve the iconic monarch butterfly and its migration.

Contact for rearing monarchs:
Aislyn Keyes, University of Minnesota Monarch Lab

Contact for information about the Festival:
MaryLynn Pulscher, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

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