Tagged Monarch Reveals Clues
September 1, 2016 by Elizabeth Howard

What does a tagged monarch, found in Toronto, tell us about migration?

Monarch Butterfly in Iowa
Photo by Jackie R. Toronto, Ontario on 8/26/16

Tag Found!

"Here's a small journey south story!" wrote Terry Whittam from his tagging location on Lake Ontario. "Monarch WBA550 was tagged on August 25th at Rosetta McClain Gardens and recovered the next day on Centre Island in downtown Toronto. It was 12.5k away, moving south to Mexico!"

Traveling the Shoreline
A day in the life of a migrating monarch reveals clues about migration pathways. The tagging and recovery sites above are both located beside Lake Ontario. When the butterfly was tagged, Terry noted "a steady east-to-west flow of monarchs all day." As the tagged monarch confirms, the butterflies were traveling along the Lake Ontario shoreline.

Shorelines are excellent places to watch migration. Monarchs often move in a steady stream along the shores of the Great Lakes, where they can avoid the dangers of an overwater crossing.

Making the Crossing
On days with offshore winds, monarchs can hitch a ride and take a shortcut across the Great Lakes.

Point Pelee is a migration hotspot on Lake Erie. It's a peninsula that stretches 9 miles out into the lake. Monarchs wait there before attempting a 35-mile crossing. On August 26th, Darlene Burgess watched as monarchs lifted off over the lake and traveled out of view.

Pathways Revealed
Monarch Butterflies migrate along Lake Ontario shoreline
Along Lake Ontario

Monarch Butterflies migrate across Lake Erie from Point Pelee
Across Lake Erie


Slideshow: Tiny Tags, Big Discoveries

What can we learn about migration from stories about tagged monarchs?

Monarch Butterfly Tagging
Jim Gagnon
Report Your Sightings
What to Report to Track Fall Migration Monarch Butterfly: Adult Sighted Monarch Butterfly: Egg or Larva Sighted
What to Report Adult Butterflies
map | list | animation
Eggs and Larvae
map | list
Monarch Butterfly Migration Map: Fall Roosts, Fall 2016 Monarch Butterfly Migration Map: Peak Migration Fall 2016 True Stories about Tagged Monarch Butterflies

Fall Roosts
map | list | archives | animation
Peak Migration
map | list | animation
Next Update September 8, 2016