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In Spring 2000, Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History affiliated with Monarch Watch®, an educational outreach program now in its ninth year at the University of Kansas. The project's goals are to: "further science education, particularly in primary and secondary school systems; promote the conservation of Monarch butterflies; and, involve thousands of students and adults in a cooperative study of the Monarchs' spectacular fall migration.

"Unlike most insects in temperate climates, Monarch butterflies cannot survive a long cold winter. Instead, they spend winter in roosting spots. Monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains travel to small groves of trees along the California coast. Those east of the Rockies fly farther south to forests high in the mountains of Mexico. The Monarch's migration is driven by seasonal changes; daylength and temperature changes influence its movements.

"In all the world, no butterflies migrate like the Monarchs of North America. They travel much farther than all other tropical butterflies, up to 3,000 miles. They are the only butterflies to make such a long, two-way migration every year. Amazingly, they fly in masses to the same winter roosts, often to the exact same trees" where their ancestors overwintered. "Their migration is more like what we expect from birds or whales. However, unlike birds and whales, individuals only make the round-trip once. It is their children's grandchildren that return south the following fall.

"Monarch Watch® is a collaborative network of students, teachers, volunteers and researchers dedicated to the study of the Monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus. The Monarch is a charismatic insect that captures the imagination of children and adults alike. Students involved in tagging and rearing Monarchs actively participate in 'real' science.

"Each year Monarch Watch® grows to involve more students and adults in Monarch studies. In Fall 1999, project coordinators sent out approximately 192,000 tags and estimate that more than 100,000 students in 39 states and three Canadian provinces tagged and studied at least 76,000 Monarchs."

During summer and fall seasons, Hilton Pond Center tags Monarchs with student and adult visitors, and as part of the Center's overall biological inventory. In 1998 a Monarch we tagged in 1997 at Belmont NC was found in El Rosario, Mexico--about 1,600 miles away! (Click on the certificate above to view a larger image.)

Complete information about Monarch Watch® is available at the project's Web site, http://www.monarchwatch.org/.

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Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History is a non-profit research & education organization in York, South Carolina USA; phone (803) 684-5852. Directed by Bill Hilton Jr., aka The Piedmont Naturalist, it is the parent organization for Operation RubyThroat. Contents of this website--including articles and photos--may NOT be duplicated, modified, or used in any way except with the express written permission of Hilton Pond Center. All rights reserved worldwide. To obtain permission for use or for further assistance on accessing this Web site, contact the Webmaster.