What a journey!

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A female monarch butterfly tagged in Kentucky last October was found months later, 1,600 miles away in Mexico.

"This is a very rare and exciting occurrence," Michaela Rogers, an environmental scientist with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, said in a news release. "With the help of our partners, we have tagged more than 600 monarch butterflies in the last several years. This is our first recovery."

Kentucky Wild member Tri Roberts originally captured and tagged the now-famous monarch butterfly as part of a research project at Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site in Perryville, Kentucky, on October 2, 2020.

Monarch Butterfly Tagged Tri Roberts
Credit: Michaela Rogers

After migrating south, the butterfly was recovered the following winter through the Monarch Watch tagging program. According to a news release, it had flown more than 1,600 miles to the El Rosario Butterfly Preserve in Michoacán, Mexico.

Millions of monarch butterflies in eastern North America migrate to central Mexico each fall. During this migration, taggers capture and tag the butterflies with a small sticker. Each tag displays a unique code, identifying the monarch and where it has traveled from in case of a recovery.

Sadly, monarch butterfly numbers have plummeted in recent years. Tagging data helps scientists gain a better understanding of the timing and pace of their migrations, their routes, changes in their distribution across North America, and areas that may be critical to supporting the movements of this important pollinators.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife tags monarch butterflies each fall from late August through early October. Kentucky Wild hosts tagging events to help capture, tag, and collect data on migrating monarchs, including the one Roberts participated in last October.  

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"I first learned of Kentucky Wild when I was renewing my fishing license several years ago," Roberts said in a statement. "I also read an article about Kentucky Wild in an edition of Kentucky Afield magazine. I became intrigued by the Kentucky Wild mission and chose to become a member, and I'm so glad I did."

Keep up the good work, y'all!