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If I am doing multiple IMMP activities at my site on the same day, which should I do first?

Conduct Activity 3, Adult Monarch Survey, first to avoid flushing butterflies from your plot during other Activities. The order of remaining Activities is up to you.

What if someone conducts monarch collection or rearing at my site? How does that affect my activities?

If eggs or larvae are regularly collected by someone on-site, make a note in your Site Description. Do not conduct Activity 2; this will not accurately depict egg-laying and larval survival potential at the site. You may conduct the remaining activities. Although Activity 3 may be an outlier relative to other sites, it should still be an accurate record of adult monarchs actively using the site.

Do I record dead eggs, larvae, or adult monarchs?

For eggs and larvae that appear dead, record or tally them as you would in your regular Activity. Make a note in the Notes section of how many observations, and which instars, were dead. This is still accurate information on where and approximately when eggs were laid, and which milkweed species larvae were using on site.

For adult monarchs, only record dead observations in the Notes section. Do not tally them for Miscellaneous Monarch observations or mark them in an Inner or Outer Box for Activity 3. We cannot be certain that the adult monarch chose to be on-site; it may have blown or been dragged in from elsewhere, and may not reflect habitat use by adult monarchs on site.

Can I throw out my datasheets after I've entered them online?

No. Hold onto the datasheets so data can be proofed. This is an important part of the project's quality control. MJV staff will send instructions toward the end of the field season on what to do with the datasheets and how to support data proofing.

Site Selection & Plot Layout

How do I find my Monarch Block number?

If you are adopting a random site, zoom to that location and click on it in the Random Site Selection map ( The Monarch Block is the first 6 digits listed under the Site ID header at the top. (Include leading zeros necessary to achieve 6 digits.) If you are adopting a self-selected site, open the Self-Selection Site map ( Zoom in to your area slowly until you see green square outlines. These are Monarch Blocks. Find the green square that your site is in, and record that for your Monarch Block. (Include leading zeros as necessary to achieve 6 digits.)

My monitoring plot was just mowed. Do I need to move my plot to an unmowed area?

No. Mowing is a form of management that will, in the long-term, help maintain habitat that benefits monarchs and other prairie species. If your plot is mowed or otherwise managed, your data will help us understand how that action affects monarch habitat. Continue surveying the plot as it was originally mapped. If the vegetation is shorter than 6 inches, you may wait until the vegetation gets a bit taller. If it is taller than 6 inches, begin monitoring again with the standard approach of laying transects and placing subplots. Milkweed often grows back fairly quickly in mowed areas.

There is not any milkweed within my plot. Can I or should I select another plot?

Please continue to monitor your site even if there is no milkweed. IMMP's strength lies in its random selection process, and a site with no milkweed may be an accurate representation of habitat in that area. The site may still be of value to adult monarchs if other nectar resources are present. Additionally, over time, milkweed may appear or spread on site, and your monitoring can help us track this change over time. If you are very interested in Activity 2, the Egg & Larva Survey, consider monitoring an additional site. You can self-select a site with a known milkweed population and register it here.

Can linear plots (along rights-of-way or agricultural edges) curve or do they have to be straight?

Linear sites can curve to follow the shape of the road, transmission line, agricultural edge, or other feature.

Why is a 200 x 50 meter plot preferred over the 100 x 100 meter plot design?

The Standard Rectangle is preferred because it is better able to span environmental gradients across the site, such as changes in slope, soil moisture, or plant structure.

Activity 1

What do I do if my roadside plot is very narrow, and my first subplot extends into the road?

Place your first subplot further along the transect where it first fits. This does not have to be an increment of 5m. Reduce the distance between subplots in order to fit 10. For example, if you had to start at 7m, divide 43 by 9 (the number of spaces between your 10 subplots). Your subplots would be 4.7m apart. You can round down to 4.5m to make addition easier. You may also reconsider how your site is categorized: Ask your Coordinator if it should be an irregular or small plot that is comprehensively surveyed.

Do I count record all blooming plant species, even it seems unlikely that an adult monarch will use it as a nectar source?

Yes, record all blooming plant species for Activity 1 (excluding grass species). The IMMP protocol does not filter data during data collection. All blooming plant information is useful (especially to species beyond monarchs), and can be filtered by researchers later if it is found that a particular species of plant is not used by monarchs. You may include blooming shrubs if they are rooted in your subplots.

What if I cannot find a specific plant species in the Survey 123 Blooming Plants dropdown menu?

The IMMP plant list comes from the USDA Plant Database ( Although you can search either common name or scientific name in Survey123, use caution because many plants have multiple common or scientific names. Sometimes the scientific names change, and in turn, the names listed in some plant guides are outdated. Therefore, if you don't find a plant you're looking for in Survey123, look it up in the USDA plant database to see if it's listed under a different name. (Make sure to select whether you are searching the common name or scientific name.) Then, use the new scientific name, or the alternative common name, in Survey123. If you absolutely cannot find the plant, type “Other” in the blooming plant box and manually enter the species name into the box provided. "Other" plants will be added to Survey123 the following year.

When planning monthly Activity 1 (Milkweed & Blooming Plant) surveys, is it more important to ensure surveys occur once in each month, or that they are spaced apart by several weeks?

If possible, space your Activity 1 surveys apart by approximately 3-4 weeks. This ensures that data is collected across a greater proportion of the blooming season. (You may conduct the survey more frequently if you wish.)

How should I record blooming milkweed in Activity 1 (Milkweed and Blooming Plant Survey)?

Blooming milkweed has two functions for monarchs: it is a host plant for larvae and also a nectar source for adults. Thus, we record it in both sections of the Activity 1 datasheet, on both the top and bottom. Record the first section in which you observe it blooming in each subplot (top section), and then record the total number of plants/stems in the subplot in the milkweed section below.

What plants do I record in the Meandering Walk section of Activity 1 (Milkweed and Blooming Plant Survey)?

Only record new SPECIES (not individual plants) that were not recorded in any of your subplots. For example, if you have no common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) recorded in your subplots, and see a common yarrow plant blooming on your plot during your meander, record that species. If you recorded two purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurescens) stems in your subplots, and then see a third purple milkweed stem on your meander, do NOT record this in your meander section. You have already recorded this species in your subplots.

What do I do when portions of my site are unnavigable, and I cannot reach a few of my plots due to thick vegetation or standing water?

Some survey plots will contain thick patches of vegetation that cannot be traversed. If you cannot reach the subplot to lay the transect tape or place the sampling frame on the ground, look into the thicket to estimate blooming plants and milkweed that would fall within the subplot. If you see either, estimate their location within the subplot and record accordingly. If none are present, record zeros. Continue the transect on the other side of the thicket.

If you cannot view or safely access the area where the subplot would fall, skip this subplot and continue the transect on the other side. For example, if you absolutely cannot view the area where subplot 24 should be, move to the opposite site of the thicket and record the next accessible subplot as 24. Place additional subplots as necessary at the end of your final transect to reach 100 subplots surveyed. If subplots become accessible due to management or other reasons later in the season, survey through the cleared area as normal, and remove the added subplots from the end.

“Unsuitable” habitat: If along the transect you encounter habitat that appears unsuitable for monarchs within a subplot, such as a thicket or water, please collect the data for that subplot as usual (as no habitat present). Do not be tempted to move the location of the subplot in order to capture certain plants.

Activity 2

Can I change how I monitor milkweeds for eggs and larvae in Activity 2 (Monarch Egg & Larva Survey)?

Do not change your method of monitoring milkweeds within a single visit; however, you may select a different method the following visit if the method you originally selected did not work well for you.

Can I conduct Activity 2 (Monarch Egg & Larva Survey) in the rain?

Activity 2 can be conducted in any safe conditions, including rain and high or low temperatures. Take the precautions needed to monitor safely. If it is raining, record that in the Notes section. Record the temperature (degrees F) in the Temperature section.

In what temperatures can I conduct Activity 2?

Activity 2 can be conducted in any safe conditions, including rain and high or low temperatures. Take the precautions needed to monitor safely. Record the temperature (degrees F) in the Temperature section.

Activity 3

The width of my right-of-way plot is variable, but is sometimes less than 10 meters wide. For Activity 3 (Adult Monarch Survey), I can fit the full Inner and Outer boxes along only a portion of the plot. Can I survey both distance boxes where they fit?

No. If the plot is too narrow to accommodate the Outer Box along its entire length, then only survey the Inner Box along the entire length. Check the box on your datasheet that says "Site too narrow; only surveyed inner box.

If I rear a lot of monarchs that are not collected from my plot, do I have to drive a certain distance away from my plot to release them?

IMMP does not recommended a specific release distance for adult monarchs that originated from another site. However, consider conducting Activity 3 before, or at least 1-2 days after, releasing other adults.

What is the purpose of having two distance bins (Inner and Outer Box) for Activity 3 (Adult Monarch Survey)?

Setting a maximum distance for recording monarchs allows us to ensure better detection/identification and enables consistent measurements across observers and occasions. A butterfly is more likely to be detected and correctly identified if it is closer to the observer. As it gets further away, detectability decreases. Therefore, many butterfly count surveys maintain a distance bin of 2.5 meters on each side of the observer (the "inner box"). However, because monarchs are larger and more visible than many small butterflies recorded on multi-species surveys, we've added a second box that extends to 5.0 meters on each side, the "outer box." We track observations in both of these boxes/distance bins to allow us to compare data with programs that use the 2.5 m width and to analyze if the detection of monarchs appears to differ within the two distance bins.

The IMMP also records if a monarch "moved to Inner Box" so researchers can assess if the Outer Box is truly allowing more monarchs to be recorded, or if they would have been recorded anyway if only the Inner Box were used, similar to other survey methods.

Activity 4

If I conduct Activity 4 (Monarch Survival & Parasitism), do I need to release my adult monarchs back to the same monitoring plot?

No, you may release your adult in any appropriate location. Adult monarchs travel widely, and it is unlikely the rearing and release of this individual will affect your site's overall data for the year.

Data Entry

Can I edit data after submitting it?

Yes, you may edit data through October of each year. After October, Monarch Joint Venture Staff proofs and finalizes data for that season, after which changes should not be made. If you discover an error at this time, contact MJV staff direction ( To edit data, open Survey123 and click on the Activity's Form you'd like to edit. Click the "Outbox" and then click on the record you'd like to edit. You will be prompted to edit and continue. Make your data corrections, and then Submit the record again. You must Submit it after editing in order for the changes to be recorded.