Newsroom Midwest Region

Help conserve monarch butterflies by being part of a volunteer monitoring network across North America

July 27, 2019

First instar monarch caterpillar on common milkweed
First instar monarch caterpillar on common milkweed. Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS.

We at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are joining hundreds of volunteers this week in the United States, Canada and Mexico, until August 4, for the 2019 International Monarch Monitoring Blitz. Be part of this regional initiative to help conserve the monarch butterfly. By volunteering, you can help monarch experts gain more information to understand the distribution of the migratory monarch butterfly in North America.

“Observations from the public can help scientists gain valuable information that will support regional efforts to protect the monarch butterfly and its habitat all along its migratory flyways,” said André-Philippe Drapeau Picard, Mission Monarch coordinator at the Insectarium/Montréal Space for Life.

For one week, the Blitz invites people across North America to go out to gardens, parks and green areas and monitor milkweed plants for monarch eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises and butterflies. This information will help researchers identify priority areas for monarch conservation actions. Data gathered during the Blitz will be uploaded to the Trinational Monarch Knowledge Network, where they will be accessible for anyone to consult and download.

To voluntarily take part in the Blitz, go to Mission Monarch page if you are in Canada. If you are east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States, follow the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, and if you are west of the Rocky Mountains, use the Western Monarch and Milkweed Mapper. In Mexico, you can go to Naturalista. Or, simply follow the Blitz on social media, using the hashtag #MonarchBlitz.

Monarch butterfly overwintering sites were first recorded by scientists in California over 200 years ago and in Mexico in 1975. Since then, the monarch has become an emblematic species for North America. After an alarming decrease in its populations over the last 20 years, the eastern monarch population overwintering in central Mexico showed a significant increase this past winter. However, the population is still well below historic levels, which inspires questions about what conservation efforts are needed to continue this positive trend.

Meanwhile, the western monarch overwintering population along coastal California hit an all-time low this winter, with less than 1% of the historic population size remaining. Public participation in community science in the West is more important than ever to help understand and reverse this population’s dramatic decline.

“The majestic monarch butterfly, a flagship North American pollinator and symbol of international cooperation, needs your help with its spectacular annual migration across the continent. Join us by contributing to the International Monarch Monitoring Blitz,” says Cora Lund Preston, Communications Specialist at the Monarch Joint Venture.

The Blitz is an initiative of the Trinational Monarch Conservation Science Partnership, created through the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. Through the Blitz, scientists from the Insectarium/Montréal Space for Life, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Monarch Joint Venture, Journey North, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and Mexico's Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas are asking the public to help them understand monarch and milkweed distribution throughout North America.