What’s the Smoky Mountains Connection to the “Mountain of Butterflies” in Mexico? And How Can You Be a Part of It?

The “Mountain of Butterflies” in Mexico is the winter habitat for millions of beautiful orange and black Monarch Butterflies. In 1980, the habitat became officially known as the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, and like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it’s also designated a World Heritage Site. But what’s the connection between these two places and how can you be a part of this amazing world of butterflies?

monarch-butterfly-tagging-great-smoky-mountains

Some of the butterflies that winter in Mexico have traveled through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and have been tagged by volunteers via the Great Smoky Mountains Monarch Watch Project led by the staff of the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. 

In the summer of 2015, Jaimie Maussan, a journalist from Mexico, visited Cades Cove and presented National Park and Tremont officials a 14-year-old Smokies Monarch Butterfly tag that was recovered from a part of the reserve known as El Rosario. The tag had been placed on a female monarch in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on October 4, 2001.

How can you and your family be a part of the fun and exciting Great Smoky Mountains Monarch Watch Project?

The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont offers opportunities for volunteers to tag monarch butterflies every year in September and October as they migrate to Mexico for the winter. The program allows scientist to learn about migration patterns and population which sadly has been in steady decline over the years.

You and your family can have a great outing in the fall as you run through the beautiful fields of Cades Cove with butterfly nets and have experts on hand to help you tag  the Monarchs. The staff at Tremont will also assist in identifying other butterfly and insect species you may catch.

For more information on exact dates in September and October for the tagging events, visit Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont and be sure to check out their Facebook page for other great activities and programs offered for students and families.

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