My first grade science enrichment class has been eagerly awaiting the arrival of their beautiful monarch butterflies as part of their “Insect Life Cycles” unit. They watched for a couple of weeks as the caterpillars ate milkweed leaves and grew fatter and fatter. Then they patiently waited as the shiny green and gold chrysalises hung upside down from the net cage. Finally after about 10 days, three bright orange and black monarchs emerged!
On Monday, we took the butterfly cage outside to tag and release them. Student volunteers helped me place tags (numbered stickers) from the University of Kansas “Monarch Watch” program on the bottom of each butterfly’s wing. Of course, we couldn’t release the butterflies without letting them sit on a few noses – a trick that can be accomplished with a little orange juice. When we released the butterflies, they immediately fluttered to the pink azalea flowers to enjoy some nectar.
Since this is the peak of the monarch’s migration to Mexico, tagging is encouraged so that researchers can learn more about the migration patterns and life span of the monarchs. So if you ever find a “tagged” monarch, make sure to report it to monarchwatch.org!
This is always a fun lesson for first graders to see a miracle of nature take place before their eyes. One of the many gifts of God in the world of science!