Disappointingly, I am cancelling the proposed Monarch Tagging Day scheduled for Saturday 27 August….
Numbers of migrant butterflies at the site are too low to make tagging a realistic and viable goal.
The expected generation of migratory Monarchs has begun emerging but in very low numbers. Instead of an expected 20-30 butterflies seen at the site per hour, there are only 5 per hour and only half of these are migrants. I do not expect this situation to change dramatically during the next week or so.
Clearly, the mortality pressure on developing eggs, caterpillars and pupae during the past month has been considerable. We know that substantial numbers of eggs were laid by the substantial summer generation of adults. We can only speculate on what happened to them during development. The most likely explanation is high mortality during the egg and early caterpillar stages. Ants and spiders usually eat a lot of these stages and perhaps the numbers of ants and spiders were extra high this year? I dont think weather was a problem with no periods of sustained heat.
I apologize on behalf of Mother Nature for this disappointing news! With the Good Mother’s cooperation we will plan to hold this event in August 2017
Despite this setback, numbers of Monarchs overall in the west do appear to be on an upward trajectory and if this is sustained it can only be a matter of time before we have hundreds of Monarchs at Crab Creek to tag!
Thank you all for your interest!
Dr David G James
Washington State University