Community Science

Help us Track the Monarch

Coming up!! October 22 – 23
Monarch Community Science Workshop, Oakland, California

Join local and national experts to explore Monarch biology to learn how you can help the population and assist in gathering important data. If you want to learn more about Monarch and how to monitor for community science, this workshop is filling fast, so sign up asap! This is a unique opportunity, and will be the first workshop of it’s kind offered in California to cover the new tagging protocol. If you’re near the Oakland area, this will be a great opportunity to take a deep dive into monarch biology and behavior, and to be trained in protocols to participate in community science programs to monitor and tag monarchs in the wild. You will receive hands-on training in the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP), a national database in addition to the newly allowed butterfly tagging program. Workshop will be held at The Gardens at Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA.

Learn more and register here:

This training supported by grant funding from the Monarch Joint Venture and US Forest Service International Programs (Wings Across the Americas).

Community Science Observers Needed

Many Monarch observers in Northern California have reported a significant change in Monarch behavior beginning in the early summer of 2020.  Instead of migrating inland from coastal areas, and heading north, many Monarchs remained in the Bay Area and surroundings, nectaring, breeding and laying eggs.  This continued into the fall and winter months when they have typically gone into diapause and migrated to the coastal overwintering sites.  In addition to the changes in Monarch behavior, more people undertook rearing caterpillars in protected settings.   In prior years the total Monarch population has been most easily counted while in the overwintering sites.  The Xerces Society has been gathering data during regular Thanksgiving and Christmas counts going back to 1997.  The count has been in steady decline since a high at that time of 1.1 million butterflies.  In 2020, the count at the overwintering sites plummeted to less than 2000 individuals, yet there were still significant reports of Monarchs active in the Bay Area and surroundings which was unusual.  No one knows what this unprecedented change in behavior indicates, and data is needed to begin to understand the change.  Since the Monarchs are no longer as concentrated at the coast where they are easily counted, new observers are needed across Northern California year round.  We at the Posse have undertaken to gather this data over the last 2 years.  Community volunteers are needed to step up and share their observations.   If you would like to contribute to this important effort, please get involved in the following ways.

Going forward, we are seeking additional reporters both on a regular (monthly) basis and/or one time reports.  If you would willing to be a part of this research project, please provide your observations/experience at Monarch Survey 2022.  Although the survey is somewhat lengthy, you only need to fill in the items which you observed. A lack of observations is just as important as sightings. If you provide your email address on the form, we will remind you when monthly observations are due. We are providing the data we collect to scientists and conservation organizations to make informed plans for ongoing support of our beloved Monarchs and their migration.

Starting in 2022, we’re encouraging folks who can to join the Monarch Larval Monitoring Project – a national community science project which provides data to scientists and conservation organizations. If you have local milkweed habitat and are willing to monitor on a weekly basis, there are a number on online trainings coming up this winter and spring. The training provides information on Monarch behavior and biology directly from scientists doing the research as well as instruction on how to collect and enter your data. Click here for further information and registration.

If you have any questions please contact us.

Community Science Projects

2022 Survey Form  Please help us track the Monarchs by contributing to our data

Pollinator Posse 2021 Monarch Survey Results

Pollinator Posse 2020 Monarch Survey Results

Record your habitat projects on the Monarch Joint Venture Map

Propagating Pipevine video