Conservation Professional/Land Manager
As you may already know, monarchs and pollinators at large are in trouble. Threats facing monarchs include pesticide use, climate change, predators, and disease. One of the biggest drivers of their population decline is the loss of habitat. Monarchs require diverse habitat throughout their life cycle, and one of the most important pieces of the cycle is milkweed.
Not only are monarchs a beloved insect across North America, but alongside other pollinators, they provide valuable services that benefit humans and other wildlife. Monarch declines are symptomatic of environmental problems that pose risks to food production, green spaces, and our own health.
We need “all-hands-on-deck” to save the monarchs. Restoring monarch population numbers to a sustainable level is needs all sectors to be involved. As a land manager, you are probably already doing pollinator conservation, but there are various actions you can do to increase your impact.
Creating habitat is as simple as preserving an area of land that is planted with wildflowers and milkweed. When it comes to planting what is best for monarchs at your site, you are the expert! Based on what you know about your lands, develop a long-term management plan and include planting species native to your area to help the habitat thrive. The ecologically responsible approach is to use seed sourced in your local area. This is referred to as "local ecotype".
Here are some actions and best practices you can implement to support monarchs and pollinators.
- Monarchs need milkweed and nectar plants to survive. Plant native milkweed to feed monarch caterpillars. No milkweed, no monarchs!
Nectar from flowers provide monarchs with the fuel to reproduce and migrate. Plant native nectar plants that bloom all season long for adult monarchs.
Other wildlife such as insects, birds, and mammals will benefit from the native habitat.Planting local ecotypes (i.e. native plants to the project site) will insure that the genetic makeup of the plants going into your project are the correct form, size, growth rate, flowering time, pest resistance, etc.Consider small adjustments to your seed mix designs or the timing of your management as easy ways to implement monarch conservation, like schedule mowing during non-breeding and migration seasons
Be it for birds, pollinators or water quality, there is common ground in creating or enhancing habitat for wildlife and ecosystem services. There are many opportunities to leverage financial resources to benefit multiple issues of concern.
Managing invasive species is an important aspect of the installation and maintenance of any habitat project. It can be a daunting task, but you don’t have to go it alone. Many communities have volunteer groups, friends groups, and local conservation organizations that are dedicated to invasive species removal and habitat restoration to help. See resources below for ideas.
Maintaining your habitat on a long term basis is important to the success of your project, and will reduce expenses over the long run.
Eliminate or reduce the use of pesticides in and around your habitat. Pesticides, especially systemic insecticides like neonicotinoids, will harm monarchs and other beneficial pollinators. This MJV handout gives an excellent overview of the risks of neonicotinoids to pollinators.
Education and Outreach Actions
Monarch butterflies provide a memorable experience for visitors to your site. It is evident through increasing public awareness of monarch conservation that this is an important cause, and an opportunity for conservation education at your site.
Below: Students participates in a ‘milkweed seed ball activity’. Photo by Wendy Caldwell.
Educational opportunities are endless with monarchs! There are many lesson plans, curricula, and activity ideas to implement at your site. Find educational resources and ideas in the Education section of our resources page.
Visitors won’t know and appreciate your conservation work unless you tell them. Help visitors understand habitat restoration by providing signs to designate a work in progress or to provide interpretation about the stage of the restoration process.
MJV has compiled existing Signs and Displays from partners that may be useful for your site.
There is a growing movement and appreciation for native landscapes, and especially pollinator habitat. Managing your land to conserve natural resources and pollinators is an important aspect of land stewardship., You can promote this work through community outreach and on site interpretation.
There are many opportunities to involve your team and community in citizen science. For a list of citizen science programs, visit MJV’s Citizen Science page.
Stakeholders from all walks of life are coming together around monarchs. Think of non-traditional partners to engage in this effort and bring more attention and resources to conservation.
|Monarch Joint Venture||Monarch Joint Venture has an abundance of resources on many monarch conservation topics. These links direct you to some commonly used tools to support efforts at your home or in your community.|
|Pheasants Forever & Quails Forever||Habitat Tips Series||These videos offer helpful advice on many different perspectives of habitat conservation and management.|
Growing the right flowers, shrubs, and trees with overlapping bloom times is the single most effective course of action to support pollinators from spring through fall.
|U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service||U.S.F.W.S. has great information on building gardens and updated information on the species status.|
|MN Department of Natural Resources||Pollinator Best Management Practices and Habitat Restoration Guidelines||This document provides best management practices (BMPs) for restoring and enhancing habitat for native insect pollinators (bees, butterflies, moths, flies, etc.).|
|National Fish and Wildlife Federation||Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund||The MBCF invests in projects that improve the availability of high-quality habitat and also increase the capacity needed to expand conservation efforts into the future.|
|Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund||Seed and Financial Assistance||Innovative solution for land managers to receive seed and contract payments to turn underutilized acreage into productive habitat designed for both honeybees and monarchs.|
|National Recreation and Park Association||This guide provides a framework for how parks can get involved with monarch conservation activities, especially the creation and restoration of high quality habitat for monarchs.|
|Audubon International and the EDF||Monarchs in the Rough Campaign||
Audubon International and the EDF have teamed up to partner with golf courses across North America to establish habitat for butterflies and increase awareness of conservation challenges in their "Monarchs in the Rough" campaign.