Monarch madness is spreading to the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, where the annual “Mad About Monarchs” event takes place Sept. 14. Participants have the opportunity to capture and tag monarch butterflies in the sunflower-filled fields surrounding KWEC, and join in other butterfly-related activities.
At the free event held from 9 a.m. to noon, participants receive information about the tagging process before heading out with a tagging leader to search for Monarch butterflies. Tags and nets are provided, along with instruction on how to tag and record data about captured monarchs.
Since no one can predict nature, several captive monarch butterflies will be available to tag should the wild monarchs be scarce. In addition to monarch caterpillars and chrysalises, several other amazing insects and arachnids will be on display, including walking stick insects, a native tarantula and scorpions.
Kids can make butterfly crafts and participate in several activities, including making a butterfly mural. Door prizes include butterfly nets, butterfly field books and t-shirts. Light refreshments will be served.
As part of Great Bend’s Melting Pot Month promotion, anyone purchasing a pin at local businesses, including KWEC, will receive a perennial nectar plant. For those who would like to encourage monarchs to their yards and gardens, free swamp milkweed plants will be available for each family. Information on butterfly-friendly plants and other attractants will be available and visitors may also walk through the wildflower/butterfly garden to view examples of butterfly-friendly plants.
The citizen science tagging project is an ongoing 21-year research project through the University of Kansas’ Monarch Watch. The response was, and has been overwhelming, with hundreds of thousands of monarch butterflies tagged over those years, adding to the knowledge base about the monarch. In past years, monarch butterflies have been recovered at overwintering sites in Central Mexico, about 1,125 miles south of Cheyenne Bottoms.
For more information contact KWEC at 1-877-243-9268 or visit wetlandscenter.com.