Sue Carpenter safely carries her research project to the garden.
"It's an unbelievable year we have picked up 75 caterpillars. We have stopped because there were so many and it's early really early it's two, three four weeks early," she said.
The monarch caterpillars are early and that's keeping Carpenter busy tagging monarch butterflies.
This backyard research project starts with finding the caterpillars, they love milkweed patches, Carpenter then places in a terrarium, a few days later the caterpillars become a chrysalis. Then in 10 to 14 days they emerge as a butterfly.
Where they go next is one of the wonders of nature. The colorful butterflies will begin an incredible migration flying thousands of miles to Mexico.
Carpenter tracks their travels by placing a sticker or a tiny license plate on their wings. The sticker includes an ID so if it's found it can be traced back to Carpenter.
"Well I have tagged hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and so far I have only had two recovered," said Carpenter.
One was recovered in New York some 176 miles away, the butterfly flew from Cabot to New York in just one week.
And one of Carpenter's monarchs was recovered in Mexico, 2,300 miles away, it was found on the forest floor where millions of the butterflies end up. It's still a mystery why they migrate to Mexico but research like this hopes to offer clues.
"The dead butterflies are pretty deep and people are always sorting through to see what they find and evidently the tag was found," said Carpenter.
A tag that proved a butterfly migrated from Vermont to Mexico.
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Friday, December 6 2013 6:22 AM EST2013-12-06 11:22:45 GMT
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Thursday, December 5 2013 6:59 PM EST2013-12-05 23:59:01 GMT
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