South Plains College group tags monarch butterflies for research

SPC group tags monarch butterflies for research

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -You’ve probably seen them around the Hub City and you might have even caught a few flying around your backyard - Monarch butterflies. Thousands of Monarch butterflies have been passing through Lubbock on their annual migration journey to Mexico.

"Just the fact that small insects like this can travel that far, survive the journey, and make it back up to their summer ground to lay eggs is pretty fascinating," Scott Starr, Biology instructor at South Plains College, said.

He and a group of students have been studying these insect’s migration and are tagging several of them to help researchers track these insects.

“It’s very simple, you just have to hold onto the butterfly, and place the tag on the outside of their hind-wing. It only takes about a minute to do and then you can just release them,” Starr said.

The tags are basically little stickers with a unique identification code. This helps the non-profit organization, “Monarch’s Watch,” to track the monarch butterflies' migration patterns. So far this SPC group has tagged 25 butterflies.

“If it was just Monarch’s Watch doing this project, they would have a much smaller sample size, fewer butterflies that they would be able to tag, but because of this people from all across the united states are able to contribute to this project,” Starr said.

Anyone is able to tag monarch butterflies. Plus if you catch a butterfly with a tag on it, you’re able to look up the code and see where the butterfly came from.

“If anybody captures that butterfly again along it’s migration route or if they find it down in the wintering grounds, they are able then to look back at their data and find out that we tagged it here in Lubbock or in Levelland,” he said.

The butterflies will only be here for a couple more days before they embark on the rest of their trip to Mexico.

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