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Tagging Monarchs : Old Method

old tagging methodThe Old Tagging Method...
The numbered tags you receive in the tagging kit are also easily applied to Monarchs using the method created by Dr. Fred Urquhart (the scientist who, with his wife Norah, discovered Monarch roosts in central Mexico in 1976). The following description is taken from a paragraph written by Dr. Urquhart in 1960.

"The specimen to be tagged is held in the left hand. The thumb and index finger of the right hand removes the scales from both the upper and lower surfaces of the wing in the vicinity of the discal cell by a gentle stroking motion. A label is removed from the sheet, bent in half so that the adhesive surface of each half faces the other, and placed over the cleared area of the wing. A gentle pressure between thumb and index finger secures the label to the wing and the specimen is released. That the above method has proved successful is evidenced by the many returns which we have had, up to a distance of nearly two thousand miles. We have also been able to tag butterflies with one wing broken across the costal area, the label holding the wing together much as a splint does a broken bone. Recoveries from over a thousand miles have been made of such damaged specimens."

Urquhart's method has been used for over 30 years and it was the method used by all those who participated in our tagging program the first year. Unfortunately, our experience during the first season indicated that many people had problems with this method. Often participants had difficulty rubbing the scales from the wings in a proper fashion. As a result, tags would not adhere properly, particularly to the underside of the wings. Also, many butterflies were damaged in the process of applying the tags, sometimes contributing to the death of the butterfly. Because we wish to have a minimum of impact on the Monarch population yet wish to maximize the recovery of tagged individuals, we have developed the new tagging method which we urge you to adopt. The rate of recaptures is two to three times higher when the butterflies are tagged on the underside of the hindwing rather than the forewing which is another reason for using this method.

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