The Monarch Butterfly in North America

Monarch Butterfly

The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is among the most recognized, studied, and loved of all of North America’s insects. Children study monarchs in school. Researchers and citizen scientists track their migration and breeding. Conservationists and government agencies are concerned about threats to breeding, migration, and wintering habitats.

The annual migration cycle of the monarch butterfly has been described as the most spectacular in the insect world. It has been called an “endangered natural phenomenon”. This species and its migration are dependent upon conservation of habitats in all three North American countries: Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Awareness of the monarch butterfly’s life cycle and habitat requirements is essential for their survival and an important step in the conservation of this animal. Many government agencies, organizations, and individuals across North America are working on projects to conserve monarch habitats and their migration.

Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch Joint Venture (MJV) is a partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic programs working together to support and coordinate efforts to protect the monarch migration across the lower 48 United States. The MJV is committed to a science-based approach to monarch conservation work, guided by the North American Monarch Conservation Plan (2008) (PDF, 5.6 MB).

Monarch Butterfly

Federal public land management agencies and the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign are taking an active role in public outreach and conservation by creating pollinator gardens that provide habitat for the monarch butterfly.

Monarch News

Conservation Status and Ecology of the Monarch Butterfly in the United States

Posted February 9, 2016

Publication cover.

Prepared by NatureServe and The Xerxes Society for Invertebrate Conservation for the Forest Service, the report, Conservation Status and Ecology of the Monarch Butterfly in the United States (PDF, 10.2 MB), summarizes the monarch butterfly’s North American distribution, life history, population, current conservation status, and potential causes of decline. In addition, there is a set of breeding and overwintering habitat management recommendations. This report aims to inform government agencies charged with biodiversity protection, as well as conservation organizations and the public in general about the threats to and current conservation status of this much-loved, iconic insect.

Conservation and Management of Monarch Butterflies: A Strategic Framework

Posted March 18, 2015

Conservation and Management of Monarch Butterflies cover.

The Forest Service issues this timely and critically needed document, Conservation and Management of Monarch Butterflies: A Strategic Framework (PDF, 8.8 MB). This framework will guide the Forest Service to effectively and efficiently use available resources and engage public and private partnerships in taking action for the conservation of the monarch butterfly.

Monarch Butterflies Brochures

Posted March 18, 2015

Monarchs and Milkweeds. Monarch butterfly adult and larvae.

During spring and summer, monarchs breed throughout the U.S. and southern Canada. In the fall, adults of an eastern population migrate to Mexico, flying up to 3,000 miles. The following spring, these butteries leave their overwintering sites and fly northward to lay their eggs on milkweeds and a few other plants in the dogbane family. In Florida, some non-migratory individuals remain and breed year-round.

Monarch Waystation

Posted October 8, 2014

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)…

Upper Peninsula Invasives Council Newsletter, April and May 2014 Edition

Posted April 7, 2014

Bumblebee Conservator cover page.

The latest edition of the Upper Peninsula Invasive Council newsletter is available. It includes an article on page 7 about the Central Upper Peninsula Cooperative Weed Management Area (CUPCWMA) receiving funding this year from the Monarch Joint Venture. This will fund project efforts through 2016 to study treatment methods for black swallow-wort at Peninsula Point in the western Hiawatha National Forest. The money will also fund additional surveying for possible unknown populations. Work as-sociated with this project will be done by The Hiawatha National Forest and Superior Watershed Partnership who are CUPCWMA partners.

See the newsletter (PDF, 3.1 MB)…