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Monarchs as a Flagship

Oct 14, 2013


  • Conservation Stories

When asked the day old question, “Why monarchs?” we never hesitate to share the many reasons to focus on monarch butterflies as a flagship species for conservation. Monarchs’ renowned social and cultural value is extraordinary amongst insects. As a national partnership organization, the MJV utilizes the social and cultural presence of monarchs to promote conservation for more than just monarchs.

First and foremost, we focus on monarch butterflies because they are familiar. They are beautiful insects with which both children and adults develop strong connections. These connections have helped to advance monarch conservation in many ways. Citizen scientists have been involved in studying monarchs for decades. Without their help, our understanding of this incredible insect would not be as extensive. Side by side with researchers, volunteers are helping to document the fluctuating monarch population and potential causes. This information helps us to evaluate ecological problems, such as habitat loss and climate change, for monarchs and other organisms. 

With a tremendous geographic range and amazing migration, monarchs draw attention from all over North America. Many other pollinators reap the benefits as people throughout the entire breeding, migration, and overwintering range work to preserve and create habitat. Adding native milkweed to an area provides food for monarch caterpillars, and nectar for a diversity of other pollinators. Milkweed is important for more than just monarchs!

Monarchs are fun and easy to learn about. They inspire unending questions from youth and adults, leading to an even greater passion for science and conservation. Formal and informal classrooms are perfect settings to introduce monarchs as a tool for teaching scientific inquiry. Observing monarchs in an educational or natural setting leads students to observe and explore other interactions in nature, which may lead to increased involvement in conservation activities as an adult.

Monarch butterflies are uniting a continent for the greater good of habitat conservation, benefiting many organisms. The growing Monarch Joint Venture partnership is facilitating conservation, education, and research efforts in the United States to ensure that these amazing insects are plentiful for future generations.