Butterflies are among the most beautiful of all pollinators. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica.
Brian Ranes, ACE, operations manager and staff entomologist for McMahon Exterminating, Evansville, Ind., helps track the monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) that migrate from North America to Mexico, where they overwinter each year.
Migration season starts in August and continues through November, depending on where the monarch butterflies are located. They travel farther than any other butterfly species, flying up to 3,000 miles to leave chilly North America for Mexico, where it’s warm.
Ranes says monarchs, his favorite butterfly, are absolutely amazing. “They decide one day to pick up and fly to Mexico; some of them travel 2,000 miles,” he said. “It takes months to go somewhere they have never been and will never go again, but somehow they all end up in the same place.”
Ranes is a lepidopterist, someone who studies or collects butterflies and moths. For more than 25 years, he has enjoyed observing these insects. His collections often are used in school presentations to teach students the benefits of butterflies and moths, and the differences between the two.
Ranes is one of thousands of volunteers east of the Rocky Mountains who tag the monarch butterflies that fly through their neighborhoods during migration season. The Monarch Watch Tagging Program began in 1992 to help researchers better understand the monarchs’ migration patterns and mortality rates. Learn more at MonarchWatch.org.
Local news station WEHT Reporter Christina Van Zelst interviewed Ranes for a story on monarch butterflies that showed how they are tagged. Area news stations and newspapers frequently rely on his expertise.
A pest management professional for more than 25 years, Ranes handles all types of pests, even young skunks. He shares his knowledge by speaking at schools, Audubon Society meetings and local nature centers, and has presented at Purdue University’s Pest Management Conference.