Our second annual Monarch Tagging Day at Lower Crab Creek (LCC) near Vantage in central Washington, is now provisionally scheduled for Saturday August 15.
This is my best guesstimate as to when the Monarch population at LCC will be at its highest. The record-setting hot summer may have had an impact on the Monarchs at LCC and their environment, likely by altering the duration of immature development and and the amount of natural mortality. We wont know the extent of this impact until the final summer generation emerges which will be reflected in the number of Monarchs available for us to tag on August 15. If sufficient numbers of Monarchs fail to appear by August 15, tagging may be conducted on August 22 instead or cancelled. A final decision for August 15 will be made by August 12.
Of greatest concern is the rapid drying up of nectar sources. A lack of flowering plants at LCC will cause rapid dispersal of newly emerged Monarchs. Currently, there are still some Milkweed and Purple Loosestrife flowers present but these are likely to be absent or much diminished by August 15.
Last year most of the Monarchs we tagged were captured while they were feeding on flowers. Given the scarcity of flowers at LCC, bringing along some favored blooms (e.g. buddleia, asters, sedum, bee balm, blazing star, blanketflower, coneflower, sunflower, rabbitbrush) either cut in buckets of water or potted, is likley to help greatly in attracting Monarchs for tagging! So please, if you can bring any butterfly-attractive blooming plants please do so!
I will email full details about the tagging day (including directions) a few days before the event. The attached Google Earth image shows the location of the site relative to the nearest towns of Vantage, Beverley and Mattawa. The day will start at 8am and run until early afternoon. You will need a butterfly net to catch the Monarchs but tags and instructions on how to tag will be provided. It should also be a good opportunity to get photos of Monarchs in their natural environment.
Please pass this message on to anyone else you think may be interested in participating. Please email me if you have any questions.
Keep your fingers crossed for a Monarch-filled August 15th!
Dr David G James
Associate Professor of Entomology
Washington State University,
Prosser, Washington 99350