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Monarch Butterfly Project

Monarch Butterflies on Temple College Campus

Each fall, one of the most profound phenomena of the natural world makes its way through central Texas. This phenomenon is, of course, the migration of the monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus), and Temple College is proud to announce its participation in observing and tagging these amazing creatures. Temple College’s interest in participating in the monarch-tagging program has arisen from a desire to contribute to the finite understanding of this annual event with help from the campus horticulturist and Biology departments, as well as TC students and the community at large.

The North American monarch butterfly’s journey begins in central Mexico in the early spring and carries north, during which time they breed and die along the way. The monarch butterfly, measuring less than four inches and weighing approximately one-fifth of an ounce, will travel north and spawn three generations of butterflies before arriving in Canada. These three generations of monarchs will set the stage for one generation to make this spectacular journey to Mexico, which we call the Fall Migration.

Why is this important? It is important because this four-inch butterfly makes a journey of 2,000 miles to a place it has never been, and there is nothing that compares to it. Scientists only have a few clues as to why or how monarchs migrate; thus our knowledge of this phenomenon is very limited, which is why TC is involved in adding information to the effort to understand this event. Sadly, due to illegal logging practices, the habitat to which they return every year in Mexico is disappearing, and the habitats along their migration route are being threatened by housing developments, freeways, and other human encroachments. Because of these factors, the migration is in danger of disappearing within the conceivable future. However, with care and conservation, we can make a difference, and this phenomenon can be preserved for generations to come.

To learn more on the Monarch Butterfly Project, visit our Tagging and Links Web pages.

    Reid Lewis
    Campus Horticulturalist

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