HOCKING HILLS, Ohio (WCMH) — Monarch butterflies are coming out out of their shells, so to speak. This is the fifth generation this year. Volunteer naturalists tag them with tiny stickers in hopes of tracking them.
“That is one of the most amazing things in nature that I have ever heard about,” Andrea Jones a volunteer naturalist at the Hocking Hills Welcome Center said.
Jones and fellow volunteer naturalist Renee Frederick wait for the butterflies to emerge. While NBC4i.com was there, the two had to help one get out. One orange and black-winged insect had a difficult time spreading its wings. When the six-legged creatures have had 24 hours to dry out and rest from emerging, the women place a sticker about half the size of a little finger’s fingernail onto its wing.
“There is a lot of loss of habitat in Mexico,” Frederick explained while placing a sticker on a wing. “They are cutting trees down like crazy and there are only a few areas where they actually like to stay.”
Frederick continued to say the loss of habitat decreases the number of monarchs returning to the United States every year.
The women have a call to action to help keep the population strong. They want people to plant common milkweed, which will give butterflies more food. Plus, do not disturb the milkweed along the roads by cutting it or spraying herbicides or insecticides.
“Anything that’s going to affect a mosquito or a fly is going to affect butterflies,” said Frederick.
One of the major contributors to the Hocking Hills Welcome Center’s butterfly data collection is Butterfly Ridge. From training to ideas, this group has helped the center organize the project.
Once the day’s butterflies are tagged, the volunteer naturalists release them and wish them happy trails, but they will not meet again. Instead, next year, the volunteer naturalists will meet this year’s Mexico migration’s great-grandchildren.
The Hocking Hills Welcome Center is open to the public 9 A. M. to 5 P. M. Monday through Saturday and Sunday 11 A. M. until 5 P. M.