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Monarch Rearing, Tagging and Releasing Survey | Monarch Watch

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Thank you for participating in Monarch Watch's survey about rearing, tagging and releasing monarch butterflies.  Your personal information will be protected and will only be used to contact you if we have questions in the future.  The accumulated results of the anonymous survey responses may be published or used to further research about monarch butterflies and their migration success.


You will have an opportunity to submit comments or clarifications at the end of the survey.  Please answer the questions as accurately as possible.  Thanks again.


Here is a note from Dr. Chip Taylor about this survey:

Reasons for this survey

As most of you know, Monarch Watch was founded as a monarch tagging program in 1992.

At that time, we promoted the tagging of wild caught monarchs, and for a number of years we assumed that our volunteers were only tagging monarchs caught at flowers or collected at overnight roosts. Late in the 1990s, it became clear that some people were tagging monarchs they had reared. At that time, we didn’t pay much attention since rearing and tagging seemed to be a small proportion of all tagging. However, by 2003 it was evident that many more people were beginning to rear, tag and release monarchs. While we didn’t know whether such practices would influence the recovery rate, we decided to be safe, that is, to be able to sort the wild from the reared when analyzing the data. So, we asked participants to indicate on their data sheets starting in 2004 whether the monarchs they tagged were wild or reared.

Perhaps inspired by the publicity about the decline in monarch numbers and/or the petition to declare the monarch a threatened species, the creation of numerous Facebook sites dedicated to monarchs and other factors, the number of reared, tagged and released monarchs has outnumbered those that are wild caught and tagged for the last several years. Although the tagging records indicate that thousands of reared, tagged and released monarchs arrive at the overwintering sites in Mexico and survive through the winter, it is also clear that the likelihood of reaching Mexico is lower for reared monarchs. We want to know why. We need to sort out why some people who rear, tag and release have much higher recovery rates than others. So, we would like to know how you rear your monarchs, whether your tagged monarchs have been recovered and why you rear, tag and release. As many of you know, there are two published and widely cited studies suggesting that reared monarchs do not orient properly or are too small or weak to reach Mexico. While that may apply to some reared monarchs, the rate of recovery of reared monarchs in Mexico suggests that the outcome could be improved if we developed a better understanding of the rearing and other conditions that lead to the highest rates of success.

Although we do not promote rearing and tagging, it seems likely this practice will continue. Assuming that is the case, we need to understand the process in order to help those who are engaged in this practice. The survey we have designed is the first step in developing a set of standard operating procedures (sop) for rearing that improve the chance that reared monarchs will reach Mexico and will successfully survive the winter. Notice the reference to plural sops. I’m assuming that there several methods that will produce butterflies hardy enough to reach Mexico. In the end, our objective is NOT to tell you what to do but to provide you with information that will improve your success.

The survey requests contact information. Fear not. We are requesting that information in the event that we need clarifications about how you rear your monarchs. We will summarize what appear to be the most successful practices and will post that information to the Monarch Watch Blog. If you simply rear monarchs and release them locally without tagging, how you rear your monarchs would also be of interest.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Chip Taylor,


Monarch Watch


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