Question and Answer

How does monarch tagging work?

The purpose of tagging monarchs is to associate the location of original capture with the point of recovery for each butterfly. The data from these recaptures are used to determine the pathways taken by migrating monarchs, the influence of weather on the migration, the survival rate of the monarchs. Coded tags are attached to monarchs when they are captured before or during their southbound migration, and recovered when monarchs are re-sighted or found throughout the migration or overwintering season. Citizen scientists record the date, location, monarch gender, and unique tag number for each fall-migrating monarch that they tag and then submit these data to be used in research. The tags and tagging process do not harm the butterflies, and the data collected have the potential to answer many important questions about monarch biology and conservation. Monarch Watch, the Southwest Monarch Study, and Monarch Alert all have monarch tagging programs and are always looking for more citizen scientists; find the program that’s best for you and get involved!

Back to Frequently Asked Questions