During the 50th Anniversary Celebration at Prescott College, we led a Monarch tagging workshop for Southwest Monarch Study. One participant and PC alumn, Michael Belef wrote about his experience:

Lisa Zander (2012), Program Coordinator and Collections Manager of the Natural History Institute, led 10 alumni, students, and friends on a Monarch netting and tagging project. Our observations and data will be entered into an international database. Lisa and others had tagged 50 Monarchs the previous week; so we only had three monarch tags left but plenty of enthusiasm to learn safe and sane Monarch netting techniques from a couple of pros.

Parking near the much-improved City of Prescott recycling facilities, we hiked along Granite Creek. I netted the first butterfly while Lisa gently applied the ID sticker to the wing and Zoe released the butterfly. As Ken predicted, we were fascinated by the strength and beauty of the Monarch as he fluttered away. It didn’t take long for our group to net, tag, record information, and release the next two butterflies. Lisa noted the plants the monarchs visit as well.

Ken Kingsley, PhD., an entomologist, showed us how to discern the darker-colored Queen butterflies from the Monarchs and identified the giant lady beetle that we discovered on some grasses. We spotted Dainty Sulphur and Western Pygmy-Blue butterflies. Ken has worked in nine national parks and for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Forest Service, and produced photographic guides to insects.

Guy Wohl joined our tagging project. Guy,  the Prescott Creeks Conservation Projects Manager, told us that local genetic tree and plant stocks are being raised and distributed in Prescott Creeks. Prescott Creeks helps improve urban landscapes, mitigates pollution, and restores watersheds like Granite Creek and Slaughterhouse Gulch. There are infrastructure challenges like sewer lines and power lines to work around. Generations of PC students and faculty have studied and worked with the communities to restore these habitats: the community engagement is growing.

Current students, Adam, Zoe, and Julie stayed behind to wander in the restored Watson Woods, perfecting their new Monarch netting skills and eager to contribute future tagging efforts for the international Monarch studies and conservation efforts. If you return to Prescott, visit the ongoing restorations at Watson Woods. Try to arrange a guided tour. More info at: https://prescottcreeks.org/. Additional information about Southwest Monarch Study can be found here.