You wouldn’t necessarily think that monarchs and the desert go together. However, the Desert Botanical Garden (the Garden) in Phoenix Arizona has been doing monarch conservation outreach for more than a decade, and is expanding their efforts by joining the Monarch Joint Venture partnership. The Garden and a few other MJV partners bring important expertise and understanding about our Southwest monarchs to the partnership, and the MJV is excited to foster further research and outreach about monarchs in the desert Southwest.
The Garden’s first Mariposa Monarca butterfly exhibit opened in 2004 in conjunction with a tagging demonstration with the Southwest Monarch Study. Since then, the Garden’s monarch efforts have grown significantly, by becoming a Monarch Waystation, introducing educational walks about monarch conservation, and starting a research program on the interaction between monarchs and milkweeds in the Sonoran Desert. In the past year, they added a “Butterfly Garden in a Box” to their plant sale (pictured) to encourage and simplify the planting of new monarch habitat and started monitoring for OE parasites in monarchs visiting the Garden. Their upcoming work includes launching the “Great Milkweed Grow Out”, a program to address the lack of native milkweeds available in the Southwest, and new workshops on planting monarch habitat. In 2017, they will open a new butterfly exhibit that will allow for continued messaging about monarch conservation and provide increased research capabilities for monarchs and other native butterflies.
As an organization working to create habitat through regional initiatives, researching milkweed and monarchs in a less than well understood region of the country, and with a longstanding specialty in education and outreach, the Desert Botanical Garden is a natural fit for partnership with the Monarch Joint Venture. Working together MJV and the Garden can help us to better understand monarch population dynamics and spread the word about monarch conservation needs and opportunities in the Southwest and beyond.