MONTREAL - Staff at the Montreal Insectarium will tag hundreds of monarch butterflies before releasing the orange-and-black insects to start their southern migration.
The tagging process, in which a round sticker nine millimetres in diameter is attached to a wing, can be observed by the public during the annual Monarch Odyssey program Aug. 18-19, Aug. 25-26 and Sept. 1-3.
Staff will also explain the different stages in a monarch's development and how the animals, weighing less than half a gram, manage to migrate over 4,000 kilometres to central Mexico. They fly only during the day, resting at night, and cover an average of 80 to 120 kilometres daily.
"It takes less than a minute to tag a monarch," said Insectarium spokesperson Mario Bonneau.
"The weight of the sticker is less than 10 per cent of the weight of the monarch" and doesn't interfere with its flying ability, he said, noting that monarchs tagged by the Insectarium have been found in Mexico in previous years.
Quebec is at the northern tip of the monarchs' range.
The tagging is done as part of the Monarch Watch international research project carried out at the University of Kansas.