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U.S. Forest Service

Things You Can Do

Learn for a Lifetime

Take some time to learn about monarch butterflies as well as other pollinators and their habitats. Where do you start?

  • Print and electronic media offer a staggering amount of information on every aspect of monarch butterfly biology, distribution, and conservation.
    • Search the Internet for information about the monarch butterfly.
    • Contact your local public or university library. Library staff can direct you to reference materials useful to the beginner as well as those already knowledgeable about monarch butterflies.
  • Local organizations such as garden clubs, your state’s native plant society, Master Gardener’s Program, Master Naturalist’s Program, and other nature-oriented groups may be great monarch butterfly resources. These organizations and groups often offer public programs about wildflowers, pollinators, butterflies, and monarch butterfly conservation.
  • Visit a nearby botanic garden or arboretum. They are vast resources of information and offer many workshops, field tours, and lectures open to the public.
  • The Monarch Watch Reading Room has some great information about monarch butterfly resources.
  • Take a class about your local butterflies and wildflowers at a nearby community college.
  • Attend local Earth Day activities in your town or participate in National Pollinator Week activities.

Picture of a monarch butterfly sitting on an Echinacea flower. Monarch butterfly on Echinacea flower. Photo by Anne Marie Conard.

Practice Good Stewardship

Be a thoughtful consumer and a good citizen of planet earth. Garden responsibly, avoiding species that are invasive and may escape into the local environment. Many native plants and natural areas are threatened by competition from invasive species.

Butterfly Gardening

Every backyard can become an oasis for monarchs and other pollinators, even in cities. Schools, youth and community groups, businesses, and state and local governments can engage in planting native milkweed and protecting monarch habitat along roadsides, rights of way, and other public and private lands.

Use native plants in your butterfly gardens, as they are the species that monarch butterflies have always depended upon. Native plants are adapted to your local environment and do not require the extra care that plants from far away places require. When incorporating native plants into your landscape, make sure they are not wild-collected. When hiking through your favorite natural areas, enjoy the monarchs and native wildflowers and make note of their preferred nectar plants, but do not collect them from the wild.

Picture of a butterfly garden along a shoreline. Lake Red Rock, Army Corps of Engineers, butterfly garden. Photo by Janet Mukai.

Garden-worthy butterfly plants are often available from seed exchanges and native plant nurseries. Your local native plant society can provide you with a list of reputable local nurseries and garden centers that sell native plants beneficial to monarchs and other pollinators.

Use care when using herbicides and pesticides. These chemicals can negatively affect non-target species. Rather than broadcasting herbicides or pesticides, spot treat. Overall, limit your use of herbicides and pesticides. Look for natural ways to reduce weeds or pests (flytraps, pheromone traps, or hand pulling weeds). Hire professionally trained Integrated Pest Management personnel who use physical controls and low toxicity products to manage pests.

Become a Certified Monarch Waystation

Register your butterfly garden as a Monarch Waystation and assist in the conservation of the monarch butterfly in North America.

Forest Nursery Notes Summer 2014 cover.

The Summer 2014 Forest Nursery Notes features specialized pollinator gardens that provide habitat for monarch butterflies on their long migrations, "Monarch Waystation".

Forest, conservation, and native plant nurseries can provide a valuable public service by growing milkweed and other flowering nectar plants that will help create pollinator habitat. Even forest nurseries who primarily grow tree seedlings can convert some marginal land into pollinator gardens.

See Forest Nursery Notes Summer 2014 (PDF, 5.0 MB)…

Be an Advocate

Find out what is planned for your neighborhood, your city, your state, and your national wildlife refuges, national forests and grasslands, and other federal public lands. These are public lands, your lands. Speak up for conservation of butterflies, especially monarchs, native plants and their habitats. The agencies responsible for the management of our public lands invite public comment about their plans for managing, developing, and regulating public lands. Embrace your civic privilege and make your voice heard.


Join a group that supports butterfly and plant conservation. At local, state, national, and international levels there are many organizations that need your support, and will welcome you as a member. Attending meetings of these organizations will be an enjoyable and enlightening opportunity. You will meet other folks who are concerned about monarchs and other butterflies and their habitats. The fellowship you will experience will inspire you, and your enthusiasm will inspire others, to care for delicate yet amazing insects.

Share Your Knowledge and Passion

Others that came before you led butterfly walks, taught local butterfly wildflower classes, and in so many ways shared their knowledge and passion about monarchs and the native plants they depend upon. They did so willingly. Now it is your turn to carry the torch, to pass along the knowledge and passion needed to keep our monarch butterflies and their habitats thriving. Your enthusiasm will be catching.

Picture of a monarch butterfly on a white flower. Monarch butterfly. Photo by Charles and Diane Peirce.

  • Invite your family and friends along for a walk through a wildflower meadow and keep an eye out for monarch butterflies, larvae, and even those tiny monarch eggs.
  • Learn the milkweeds native to your area.
  • Volunteer to make a presentation in your town, especially at your local elementary or middle school. Help children make deep connections with nature that will last them all their lives.

Become a Citizen Scientist

No public land management agency has the staff or the budget to carry out all the necessary tasks to conserve and manage monarch butterflies and monarch habitats. Many agencies and organizations provide training enabling people to conduct monarch monitoring, give public programs, and lead public interpretive walks.


If you able, donate your time, talents, books, and monarch butterfly photographs to schools, community groups, garden clubs, or conservation groups.

For More Information

Picture of two women, one holding a capture net, the other reaching into the net to tag a monarch butterfly. Volunteers capturing and tagging monarch butterflies. Photo by Anne Okonek.