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Tagging monarch butterflies

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio

When we were filming the pollinator garden at Irmo Middle School, kids were throwing balls and racing around after their lunch break. Another athletic skill some students develop is based on activity in the garden, trying to capture adult butterflies with insect nets. Both monarchs and viceroys are attracted to plants growing there, they look alike but have different flight patterns. They’re relatively easy to tell apart when they are immobile, viceroys are immediately released but monarchs get a sticker applied to a spot on their wing, tags supplied by the national Monarch Watch tagging program. When one of those butterflies is recaptured, scientists can determine its origin, how far it’s flown, giving information on the activities of these animals. Not all monarchs overwinter in the mountains of Mexico, there are several other destinations.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.