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Roadside Corridors as Habitat for Monarchs

Oct 21, 2019


  • Recent Research

Roadside corridors can provide important habitat opportunities for monarchs. The Monarch Joint Venture and partners have created a set of tools for transportation managers who want to enhance or maintain monarch habitat in roadsides. Here we provide an overview of the new resources, and encourage you to visit the Roadside Habitat for Monarchs page for more information!

On Tuesday October 22, Alison Cariveau, MJV Science Coordinator, will give a webinar on Roadside Corridors as Habitat for Monarchs. The webinar will cover opportunities and threats present in roadsides for monarchs, provide an overview of tools and resources available, examine case studies of successful monarch habitat, and explain how everyone can get involved. Register to tune in at 2:00 PM Eastern on Tuesday or catch the recording at a later date.

You can find all the MJV’s new roadside resources on the Roadside Habitat for Monarchs page. These include a resource document on herbicides and weed management relative to monarchs, a full set of Frequently Asked Questions (and their answers!) regarding roadsides and monarchs, and 16 regional milkweed guides developed by Xerces Society and MJV to aid roadside vegetation managers and any other interested party in identifying the types of milkweed that grow in their area.

Free, downloadable tools to be run in Esri software are also available for transportation managers to better manage their roadside resources. A Landscape Prioritization Model supports managers in understanding the landscape context for their habitat work in roadside corridors, and the Roadside Monarch Habitat Evaluator calculates habitat quality scores from rapid roadside habitat assessments.

Woman in reflective vest holding a clipboard on a grassy roadside with trees in the background.A new paper, “Rapid Assessment of Roadsides as Potential Habitat for Monarchs and Other Pollinators,” introduces a Rapid Assessment technique for quickly evaluating roadside habitat, and documents monarch breeding habitat and monarch use in Minnesota roadsides (recently published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution). The authors also compare the Rapid Assessment protocol with another survey method, the Integrated Monarch Monitoring Program (IMMP).

If you’re not a roadside manager but are passionate about monarch habitat along roadways, you can still be involved. Find out what the agencies in your state, county and municipality are doing to manage habitat in their roadways and let them know you support creating habitat along rights-of-way. Set an example by creating habitat on your own land and speaking up in your community about the importance of habitat for monarchs and other pollinators. Participate in the IMMP to help gain a landscape level understanding of how much, and what quality of habitat is available on roadsides and other landscapes across the country. Join us for the upcoming webinar to learn more about the opportunities available on roadsides and how you can make a difference.

We’re grateful to the National Cooperative Highway Research Program of the Transportation Research Board for supporting this work. Monarch Joint Venture developed these tools in partnership with the University of Minnesota, Oklahoma State University, Environmental Incentives, and the Xerces Society, with critical input from a variety of road program managers. This project builds on the leadership shown by many transportation departments in providing pollinator habitat and developing pollinator-friendly management practices.


The Monarch Joint Venture is a national partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, businesses and academic programs working together to conserve the monarch butterfly migration. The content in this article does not necessarily reflect the positions of all Monarch Joint Venture partners. Header photo of a Florida roadside provided by Jeff Norcini. Inset photo of Alyssa Barette monitoring for WI DOT, by Alison Cariveau.