26th Annual Monarch Butterfly Festival

26th Annual Monarch Butterfly Festival

written by US Fish & Wildlife Service

 

Visitors will be able to watch the tagging process at our 26th annual Monarch Butterfly Festival on Saturday, October 25, 2014, from 10 am – 4 pm.

Fall is in the air and so are the migrating monarch butterflies, making their 2,000 mile trip from the northern American boundary to the mountains of central Mexico. This amazing phenomenon passes through the Gulf coast of Florida beginning about the third week in October, and may be observed along the coast at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. 

Unlike other animal migrations, each monarch butterfly is on its own. There is no parent to follow. Its annual journey is a complex, inherited behavior pattern, not a learned process. Migrating monarchs are usually those who hatch out in late summer. Monarchs have a 4-inch wingspan and weigh 1 gram (1/5 the weight of a penny). They travel with cold fronts, often at speeds of 10 – 30 mph, covering 80 miles a day. They may fly at 3,000 feet and higher and will “fall out” on the goldenrod and saltbush, blooming down at the St. Marks lighthouse, and feed hungrily for their long trip. This Saturday, the weather looks perfect to bring in loads of monarchs and visitors!

Volunteers have been tagging the St. Marks monarchs for many years, hoping a few would complete the trip to Mexico. Visitors will be able to watch the tagging process at our 26th annual Monarch Butterfly Festival on Saturday, October 25, 2014, from 10 am – 4 pm. The event is filled with the wonder of folks of all ages charting their own “migration,” making butterfly crafts, talking with monarch butterfly researchers and other exhibitors, learning about landscaping to help all pollinators, munching on a Bradley’s sausage dog, watching tagged monarchs take flight, viewing wildlife on wagon tours and much more! 

Join us to observe the miracle of migrating monarch butterflies in person. Everything is open to the public as space allows. There is no cost for any of the tours or programs; however, the regular entrance fee into the refuge will be charged. This year, we offer the triple play: Monarch Butterflies at the refuge; Stone Crabs and Ft. San Marcos State Park festivals in the town of St. Marks, all on Sat. Oct. 25! For more information about the monarch festival, please call 850-925-6121.