Monarchs on the Move
To evaluate current monarch populations and habitat nationwide, the Monarch Joint Venture is implementing an Integrated Monarch Monitoring Program. TPE Executive Director Chris Kirkpatrick provides an overview and links to pertinent information on the Program and training.The US FWS will be making a determination whether or not to list the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act by June 2019. Over the past decade, the populations of monarchs that reach Mexico to overwinter have significantly decreased. The size of the overwintering population is now becoming one of the biggest indicators for successful monarch recovery efforts. In the 2017-2018 over-wintering season, the total size of habitat used by the monarchs was less than half of the goal for successful monarch recovery efforts.
To address this population decline, the Mid American Conservation Strategy is currently being assembled with a goal to increase 1.3 to 1.6 billion milkweed stems over the next 20 years. The most current research, that estimates the needed milkweed stems to achieve the overwintering acreage goal, is called the “All hands on Deck” article (Thogmartin et. al. 2017). To begin addressing the milkweed stem goal, each state within the main monarch migration corridor is currently determining their respective milkweed stem goal.
To evaluate current monarch populations and habitat nationwide, the Monarch Joint Venture is implementing an Integrated Monarch Monitoring Program. The program will train conservation staff, researchers, and citizen scientists to collect information on milkweed populations, monarch eggs and caterpillars, adult monarch butterfly populations, and tracking butterfly survival. The monitoring program prioritizes randomly selected locations across the monarch butterfly migration corridor, and is modular so participants can select the activities to conduct. You can view a map of the locations that the Monarch Joint Venture is seeking volunteers to monitor here, or contact the Monarch Joint Venture to find an alternative site closer to you.
Most of the Integrated Monarch Monitoring Program (IMMP) trainings are two days and cost $50 to attend. The fee covers the training, lunch during the workshop, and a kit of monitoring supplies. Space is limited to 30 participants. You can register on-line, and there are several trainings coming to the upper Midwest in the coming months:
- May 8-9: Des Moines, IA
- May 15: New Richmond, WI
- May 19-20: Chicago, IL
- June 2-3: Madison, WI (Dane County UW Extension Office)
- June 9-10: Bloomington, MN (MN Valley National Wildlife Refuge)
- July 21-22: New London, WI (Mosquito Hill Nature Center)
- Milkweed and Blooming Plant Surveying is designed to assess monarch habitat. Participants count the number of milkweed host plants and assess the relative abundance of blooming plants that provide nectar for adult monarchs.
- Monarch Eggs and Larvae Surveying monitors milkweed plants for monarch eggs and larvae. Milkweed and monarch egg & larvae sampling can be done together during field visits.
- Adult Monarch Surveying documents adult monarch presence and behavior. Participants conduct a Modified Pollard Walk to count the number of adult monarchs present at their monitoring plot. While doing this, volunteers will also record behavior of monarchs observed.
- Tracking Parasitism and Monarch Survival is designed to assess local sources and rates of monarch parasitism through collection of monarch larvae that are reared and their fate reported.