Tagged butterfly left Kentucky and survived 1,600-mile journey to Mexico sanctuary

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A monarch butterfly tagged in Kentucky last year survived a 1,600-mile journey to a sanctuary in Mexico.

Though the massive migration of monarchs happens every year, this was “rare and exciting” for the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, officials said in a news release last week.

The female monarch was tagged in October 2020 during an event at the Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site. The site has over 750 acres of habitation friendly to pollinators. The tag is a small sticker with a code to identity the monarch and where it had traveled from in case it’s recovered.

No monarch tagged in the state had ever been recovered until recently.

The female monarch was found during the winter/ at El Rosario Butterfly Preserve in Michoacán, Mexico. It’s the largest sanctuary in the 217-square-mile Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a rugged, forested mountain region where monarchs overwinter.

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

Some monarchs fly up to 3,000 miles to reach their winter destination, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Monarchs can travel between 50 and 100 miles a day and the longest single-day trip ever recorded was 265 miles.

The monarch was tagged by Tri Roberts, a member of Kentucky Wild.

Kentucky Wild is a paid membership program that allows residents to work alongside researchers trying to preserve threatened wildlife.

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