Monarch Watch, a conservation project through the university, was holding its annual Monarch butterfly tagging event this weekend. While a parade also beckoned, when I put the choice to the Kid he picked "catching butterflies" over marching bands, so off we tromped to the local wetlands.
Brief explanation: Monarch Watch tags butterflies prior to the butterflies' winter migration to Mexico. Each tag--a tiny sticker, which doesn't hurt the butterfly--has a unique number. When/if the butterfly makes it to Mexico and dies, workers there collect the butterflies and record the numbers to track migration. Equipped with a short "butterfly school" and a net and clipboard, our job was to catch and tag several butterflies as they breakfasted on the wildflowers.
It was...um, not easy. We got close to a few, but while I tried to approach them "like a preying mantis" as our instructor suggested, butterflies are quicker than you might think. The Kid eventually lost interest and began throwing rocks into a drainage ditch, while I propped my net on my shoulder and scanned the field, growing more hot and sweaty by the minute.
Luckily, before too long, a Monarch Watch worker took pity on us. She held out a butterfly she had just caught, "Do you guys want to tag this one for me?" Yes, yes we did!
We walked around a bit more after that, but never did catch a Monarch on our own. Even if we aren't destined to become professional butterfly conservationists though, it was still a pretty morning to be outside. As we headed home for a cold drink, the Kid let me know, "I had fun chasing the butterflies, mama."
An apt word choice.