Prisoners are Tagging Delicate Monarch Butterflies for Science [VIDEO]

September 22, 2014 2:51 PM

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It's a monarch butterfly jail break. Each year inmates at the Walla Walla Penitentiary in Washington state rear thousands of monarch butterflies and release them as they mature up until early October. That's when the last of these majestic insects should be winging their way down to Mexico, where they were spend their winter among acres of fir trees. This release is part of a Washington State University (WSU) project that "tags" the delicate creatures in order to track their southward progress.

Of course, no traditional metal band or GPS tag could be slapped onto a butterfly without harming it, so WSU researcher David James, who heads the project, has his colleagues and participating inmates carefully place a small and lightweight sticker on the underside of a wing.

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