Broadcast story: Migrating Monarchs

Monarch butterflies are an easily recognizable species, but now they are also a species under threat.

According to the National Wildlife Federation monarchs have experienced a 90 percent decrease in population size in the past 20 years.

That decrease, and a loss of habitat, threatens monarch migratory patterns too.

That’s why Hamilton County Park environmental educator Adam McCosham (Mc-kosh-am) led a catch and release tagging event at Shaker Trace Nursery on Sunday.

The program uses unique ID stickers to tag monarchs to track their movements.

That data benefits researchers who are trying to understand the survivability rates of certain areas.

McCosham says the results are important to understanding not only the plight of the monarch, but other pollinators too.



Migrating Monarchs


Monarch butterflies have experienced a steady decrease in population size for the past 20 years, putting the future of a species and a phenomenon at risk.

The phenomenon at risk is the monarch’s migratory behavior, which makes them unique in the butterfly world.

Every year, around the beginning of October, monarchs begin to make the long trek south towards Mexico and the California coast where they roost.

But the same factors threatening monarch populations also pose the risk of disrupting their winter homes.

That’s why Adam McCosham, a Hamilton County Parks employee who serves as an environmental educator, led members of the public on a catch-and-release tagging event at Shaker Trace Nursery on Sunday.

Armed with butterfly nets, McCosham’s group attempted to catch monarchs, tag them with a unique ID sticker, and release them.

The hope is that when the butterflies reach their destination someone will notice the tag and record it to contribute to data that may prove helpful to researchers.

“You can see exactly where they’re going,” McCosham said. “You can also track survivor trends as well, like what areas are getting better survivability.”

Habitat loss impacts monarchs perhaps more than any single other factor.

The same flat land that attracts butterflies to open meadows are also attractive to developers.

Changing agriculture practices also impact the amount of milkweed readily available to monarchs, which they depend on for food and reproductive purposes.

“The thing that affects them the most here is genetically modified crops,” McCosham said.

McCosham caught the first monarch with a flick of the wrist near a row of purple aster flowers, folding the net over itself and trapping the insect.

He then removed the butterfly, attached a unique tracking sticker, and released the butterfly, now designated “XHL700.”

After the release, he records the date, the monarch’s gender, the unique ID, and the location of the catch on a sheet he will send to a lab in Kansas that will tabulate the date.

In total, McCosham’s group caught three monarchs.

“I had low expectations today,” he said. “Honestly, I didn’t know if we’d get any. We’re a little past their peak season.”

McCosham’s words echo underlying concerns he voices later, before his group of volunteers leave.

“Insects in general are important because they pollinate a lot of our food supply,” he said. “Monarchs could be an indicator—a keystone species—of pollinators plight.”





UC mens soccer completes comeback

At first it was hard to tell what happened.

After University of Cincinnati sophomore midfielder David Sanz delivered a hard cross that was initially blocked by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis goalkeeper Michael Buck there was a scramble for the loose ball.

The Bearcats and Jaguars bunched together in the box, colliding at the ball for a brief instant.

Finally, UC freshman forward Austin Smythe emerged from the scrum galloping towards the sideline with arms outstretched.


Smythe’s goal, which came in the 62nd minute, proved to be the game-winner for the Bearcats in their 2-1 come from behind victory over IUPUI Friday night.

“I was happy to be in the right spot at the right time and tap it in,” Smythe said.

Trailing 1-0 at halftime, the Bearcats opened the second half much more aggressively by altering their formation to better facilitate up-tempo play.

“I thought we started out very slow,” UC head coach Hylton Dayes said. “We knew we had to change our shape and we had to basically chase the game.”

Usually the Bearcats like to control games by possessing the ball, but a stingy IUPUI team and inclement weather forced them to change to a 4-4-2 formation.

Lingering rain showers from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey soaked the playing field creating dead spots in some places where the ball would stop suddenly after shooting up small water geysers.

Exasperated players on both teams were puzzled by the balls unpredictability in certain corners of the field, causing them to avoid some spaces altogether.

The Bearcats adjustments at halftime payed off in the 55th minute when Sanz sliced a shot from the top of the box into the top right corner of the goal and past the outstretched arms of Buck.

Sanz, who has scored a goal in every game this season, is proving to be the catalyst of the Bearcats offense.

“In the second half when we’re at our best is when David is on the ball leading our press.” Dayes said.

Sanz’s sudden offensive production is due in no small part to the new role he has filled on the team this year.

Last year, Sanz was the team’s defensive midfielder. This year he’s attacking much more—he has three goals this season after notching just one in 2016.

Cincinnati maintained good possession of the ball for the remainder of the match, securing a soggy victory to improve their record to 2-1 this season.

“This is a great way to bounce back considering the elements and we fell behind a goal,” Dayes said. “It shows a young team maturing a little bit and finding different ways to win.”