Chasing Butterflies

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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.