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Monarch butterfly on an orange flower in the Smoky Mountains

FOUND AFTER 13 YEARS: Butterfly Tag from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Every year, the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont hosts Monarch butterfly tagging events at Cades Cove, to collect, catalog and tag butterflies. By tagging butterflies, they are able to track their migration path and track the length of time they spend in the area before migrating from the cooler weather to the sunshine.

This year, one particular butterfly tag from the Great Smoky Mountains was found in Mexico, at a high part of a butterfly sanctuary known as El Rosario. Later, the tag was identified as a tag from a group of butterflies in Cades Cove in 2001, over 13 years ago!

It’s surprising that anyone would find a butterfly tag on the forest floor, especially after 13 years; the tag is only a small sticker that’s about the size of a pea.Tagged Monarch butterfly on a yellow flower

Local news station WBIR interviewed Tremont Citizen Science coordinator Tiffany Beachy and Outdoor Educator Wanda DeWaard to learn more about how the butterfly tag was found. Both were amazed that the tag had been sitting on the forest floor for nearly 14 years, “just waiting to get found.”

Wanda was actually part of the group who tagged this particular butterfly in the national park on October 4, 2001.

According to Wanda, “That butterfly left on a fairly warm, sunny day. That butterfly probably flew to Mexico, probably through Texas, down into Mexico, and got to the mountains. That was a very stormy year. There was a very severe winter storm. Soaking rain. Freezing temperatures. millions of Monarchs perished.” (Credit: WBIR)

How to Be a Part of Monarch Tagging in the Great Smoky Mountains
Everyone can be a part of the monarch tagging that happens in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you like to spend time outside, you’ll be a perfect fit!

Kids chasing butterflies in a field at Cades CoveEvery year, in September and October, the teams will meet in Cades Cove to catch butterflies and tag them before they head off to Mexico. It’s a free activity and is open to the public, but you have to sign up as spots are limited for each date.

We’re all patiently waiting for them to release their 2015 monarch tagging dates which will be released on their website.

Planning Your Vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains

Whether you want to visit to see the butterflies in the springtime, or you’re thinking about joining a Monarch butterfly tagging team in the fall, now is a great time to book your cabin rental for your trip.

Look at all of these beautiful Smoky Mountain cabins available, and get started planning right away! Cabins fill up quickly for the fall months, during the butterfly tagging dates, because the fall colors stretch throughout the mountaintops.

When you visit, make sure to keep your eyes open! You never know, you might stumble upon a butterfly tag from the Great Smoky Mountains while you’re here on vacation!

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