Monarchs make an excellent flagship species for conservation. Creating habitat for monarchs also creates habitat for other pollinators which we rely on for pollination services. Conserving pollinators and their habitat has positive cascading effects leading to conservation of other animals including songbirds and mammals. This pays dividends towards the health of our natural and managed habitats, paving a sustainable future for our own species Community organizations, like local non-profits, church groups, clubs and others, can be a pathway for their members to learn how they can participate in the conservation of monarchs. Everyone can help protect the monarch migration for future generations by creating habitat, educating others, and participating in research or monitoring activities, like citizen science.
The Importance of Monarchs to Communities
Monarchs are beloved by people all over the United States, Canada and Mexico. Their beauty and familiarity help connect both children and adults with the natural world and further engage them in activities to conserve monarchs and the environment. In addition to the benefits to monarchs, incorporating monarch conservation into your community work can increase participation in outdoor activities, build local sponsorship opportunities, and bring together diverse community groups or sectors in a unified effort to protect an iconic species.
Monarch habitat provides a broad range of environmental and economic benefits, from storm-water mitigation to improved pollination services. The security and stability of our food sources and ecosystems are dependent on healthy pollinator populations. Pollinator habitat also adds beauty to your landscape, both with colorful flowers and by attracting vibrant butterflies and insects of all types.
Community groups participate in a monarch habitat planting at a roadside waystation in Virginia. Photo: VDOT Flickr.
How You Can Help
Together, we can achieve more. Creating a network of habitat as a community leads to greater success than individuals working alone. By getting your community involved in monarch conservation, you become part of the international effort to protect the monarch migration for future generations!
Create Habitat for Monarchs:
- Monarchs need milkweed to survive. Plant native milkweed to feed monarch caterpillars. No milkweed, no monarchs!
- Nectar plants are essential too. Flower nectar provides monarchs with the fuel they need to reproduce and migrate. Plant a variety of native perennial nectar plants to provide bloom throughout the growing to help adult monarchs. If you also plant non-native species, including annuals, choose those that provide a nectar service.
- Your habitat planting can be any size or shape. Bigger is better, but monarchs can find and use everything from a small backyard garden to large expanses of prairie for breeding or fueling migration. Yard-by- yard, our efforts build upon one another, connecting vital habitat for pollinators.
- www.plantmilkweed.org provides more information on creating habitat for monarchs, including sourcing native, locally sourced seeds and plants and selecting what is right for your area.
- Information about funding resources can be found on the MJV FAQ page. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box; sometimes funding can come from unlikely sources. The worst that can happen is they say no, so just ask!
Education and Citizen Science:
- Some ideas to start with can be found on the MJV ‘Educate Others’ page, including organizations you can reach out to for additional resources, such as training and powerpoint presentations.
- Hold monarch tagging events in the fall to involve your community in the monarch migration. You can order tags from Monarch Watch here.
- Work with your local nursery to hold milkweed and native plant sales. Ask them if they would supply plants at wholesale for fund raisers.
- Establish relationships with botanists or horticultural planners. Get the word out that your organization can help design Monarch Waystations.
- Find some excellent downloadable resources to support your work in the “Education” section of the MJV Downloads and Links page.
- There are many opportunities to involve your team and community in citizen science. Citizen science is an excellent volunteer activity, and a meaningful way for everyone to contribute to monarch conservation. It can even lead to increased engagement in other conservation efforts! (Lewandowski et. al, 2015) For a list of citizen science programs for monarch butterflies, visit MJV’s Citizen Science page.
- The MJV has compiled many additional valuable resources from our partners on our Downloads and Links page. On this page you can find the MJV handout series. The handouts can also be downloaded and distributed to various audiences.
- National Recreation and Park Association Parks for Monarchs Campaign
- National Wildlife Federation Pollinators and Monarchs
- Lewandowski, E.J., Oberhauser, K.S., Butterfly citizen scientists in the United States increase their engagement in conservation, Biological Conservation (2015), doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2015.07.029.
- The Field Museum Urban Monarch Conservation Guide: The Urban Monarch Conservation Guidebook maps the city from a monarch's point of view, in a way that ultimately stitches these pieces together into an overall strategy and helps cities set priorities and goals for monarch recovery.
- The Monarch Watch Monarch Waystation Program engages citizens in science and habitat restoration by providing instruction and materials to create monarch habitat.