On December 20, 2020, the US Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) determined that listing the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) under the Endangered Species Act is warranted but precluded, meaning that data support the need to protect this species, but that there are other higher priority species that require attention first. Currently, the Service plans to propose a listing status for the Monarch butterfly in fiscal year 2024. For more information, please visit the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Monarch butterfly species profile.

Habitat in Georgia: The monarch butterfly is found in open habitats state-wide and relies heavily on a variety of native milkweed species and nectar producing plants. Additional details on this species resource needs can be found in the Species Status Assessment and the Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances. Information on milkweed plants native to Georgia and links to additional resources are published here by the University of Georgia Botanical Garden.

Recommended Conservation Measures

As it is a candidate for listing, the Service welcomes conservation measures for this species. Recommended, but voluntary, conservation measures include: 

[1] planting (recommended) or seeding of native milkweed and native nectar plants with an aim for diversity of species and bloom timing (note: organically grown Georgia sourced plants are best; Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is not native to Georgia and is an invasive concern; and Tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is also not native and potentially harmful);

[2] brush removal to promote habitat with native milkweed and native nectar-producing plants;

[3] targeted hardwood control when thinning woodlands on timber lands and selecting herbicides that preserve the herbaceous layer of plants when doing soil prep;

[4] prescribed burning (outside the growing season for native milkweeds; in patches or smaller units is recommended) to promote suitable habitat on a 2-3 year rotation in the Piedmont, 2 year rotation on the coastal plain, and 3-5 year rotation in the mountains;

[5] creating or preserving suitable habitat on idle lands or set-asides (see link below for additional guidance);

[6] conservation mowing (i.e. mowing only November – March) to enhance native floral resource habitat;

[7] targeted herbicide treatments (outside the growing season of native milkweeds) to restore suitable habitat; and

[8] invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species

Monarch Migration in Georgia: Monarchs can be seen migrating across Georgia in the fall on their way to the mountains of Mexico and before returning to Georgia and states to the north in the spring. During fall migration, monarch butterflies may roost in large numbers in evergreen trees on cold nights following a day of strong migration. One such roost, pictured here, was found on the Georgia coast in November 2018. Learn more about how to identify monarchs here.

Report Your Sightings: You can contribute to our knowledge base and help inform conservation efforts by reporting your sightings of Monarch butterflies, caterpillars, and milkweed on the Journey North website.

Monarch butterflies roosting in a tree

Additional Resources:

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Contact Information

Biologist Meghan Hedeen
Fish and Wildlife Biologist - Transportation Projects, Pollinators, Plants
Ecological Services
Additional Role(s)
Monarch Butterfly CCAA,
America the Beautiful Working Lands Group
Section 7 Consultation,
Pollinator Conservation


Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterfly

Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterfly on Energy and Transportation Lands. Published on March 2020.

Monarch Butterfly Species Status Assessment (SSA) Report

The monarch, Danaus plexippus, is a species of butterfly globally distributed throughout 90 countries, islands, and island groups. These butterflies are well known for their phenomenal long-distance migration in the North American populations. Descendants of these migratory monarch populations...