You can do a lot to protect the vanishing monarch butterfly, from planting milkweed to collecting data on monarch breeding and migration.
Create monarch habitat
Without a major effort to restore milkweed, the monarch population is certain to decline. Monarchs depend on milkweed for survival. It’s where they lay their eggs, where caterpillars first hatch and feed.
Monarch Watch, a nonprofit education, conservation and research program, needs volunteers to create "Monarch Waystations" (monarch habitats) in home gardens, at schools, businesses, parks, nature centers, along roadsides or gas stations and on other unused plots of land. The program offers volunteers a seed kit and a registry. A limited amount of free milkweed is available.
Monarch Watch also has useful instructions for growing milkweed on your own.
Become a citizen scientist
Members can also help solve some of the enduring mysteries about the monarch. To better understand monarch migration, science organizations rely on citizen scientists to collect data during the annual life cycle of monarch breeding, migration and overwintering. Your actions can improve and inspire monarch conservation.
Here are some of the ways you can get involved:
- Get an overview of the leading monarch preservation organizations, at Monarch Joint Venture.
- Start young: There are many ways schoolchildren can help the butterfly. Monarch Watch features a number of programs for children of all ages. In addition to rearing monarchs, the group has several ongoing research projects that rely on student-scientist partnerships. Classroom projects include tagging monarchs, larval monitoring, recording monarch size and mass and monitoring of flight direction.
- Join Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, run by top scientists at the University of Minnesota's Monarch Lab involves citizen science volunteers across the country.
- Download a free citizen science app for your mobile phone from Journey North, a group that tracks the spring and fall migrations week-to-week with exciting updates. The app allows you to report your sightings from the field and view maps, take pictures and leave comments.
- If you live in California, check out the Xerces Society Western Monarch Count, a yearly effort of volunteer citizen scientists to collect data on the status of monarch populations overwintering along the California coast during the overwintering season.
- If you have observations of milkweed or breeding monarchs, please submit your data to the Milkweed Survey. The Xerces Society is collecting information on milkweed locations and monarch breeding observations throughout the West.
Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of the volunteers, we now have a decade's worth of data demonstrating that monarchs have undergone a dramatic decline in the western U.S.
Donate to restore monarch habitat
Your help is urgently needed to protect vanishing monarchs. Donate now to the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Exchange, which is administered by the nonprofit Biodiversity Works in partnership with EDF. Your donation will go directly towards creating monarch habitat.