Projects/Our Work

Projects/Our Work

Help us Track the Monarchs – 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 feel free to contact Terry Smith at or fill out the contact form on the Pollinator Posse website.

Presentations and Classroom Visits

Reach out to us via our contact page if you would like to arrange a guest speaker for your event, professional group, garden club, classroom or other organization. We can provide a variety of presentations on the status of pollinators, supportive gardening practices and habitat development. In addtion, we have a collection of displays and hands-on activities to engage people of all ages at events. We are here to educate and foster interest.

Help Bring Back the Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly the the East Bay Hills

The irredescent blue Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly looks tropical but it’s native to the East Bay hills. Its caterpillars can only survive eating the California Pipevine, which once grew in the creekbeds and wild places. Since we have covered or developed most of these areas, this plant is rare. In 2019, our first known brood returned to the Oakland/Piedmont community after over 30 year. If you have the space to grow California Pipevine, please join our effort to restore the habitat for this stunning butterfly.  For More Information click here To view video about the plant/insect relationships click Here

Lu’s Memorial Pollinator Garden

Since 2010, significant portions of the Gardens at Lake Merritt have been converted from lawn to pollinator habitat. This portion was planted to honor the memory of Lucille Rocha and offer nectar and host plants for pollinators. A tranquil Seed Fountain quenches the thirst of the fluttering Monarchs which now grace Oakland in growing numbers. Our volunteers cull habitat for caterpillars  and our butterfly education program offers local youth the chance to witness the miraculous metamorphosis.

Veterans Memorial Building Garden

On September 10, 2011, in commemoration of 10th Anniversary of 9/11, volunteers established this commemorative plot beautifying Oakland’s Veterans Memorial Building. Local vets recruited by The Mission Continues worked alongside community members to get this garden ships and Oakland’s mayor visited the site to thank all of the participants.

The Bee Hotel

The Bee Hotel (Gardens at Lake Merritt) With a design by Oakland City Carpenter, Troy Bally, inspired by Paris’s own bee hotel, our Hotel “opened” Earth Day 2013. Native bees dwell in wood and holes bored into the Hotel’s blocks offer the insects shelter to nest and lay their eggs. Native bees, their behaviors and the challenges they face differ greatly from those of hive-dwelling honey bees and bumblebees. All bees however are unsurpassed as Pollinators– so saving as many as possible requires knowing that all bees are not created equal.

Bee Hotel at the Lake Merritt Gardens

Oakland Fire Station #1 Pollinator Garden

Oakland Fire Station #1 - 9/17/2013
Pollinator Pathways planting event.

This Pollinator Pathways way station in West Oakland (17th St and MLK) was designed by a neighborhood resident and funded by Kaiser Permanente and the National Corporation for Service and Volunteerism. City officials including the Fire Chief joined volunteers to  spruce up the site at 17th St  and MLK Way on September 17, 2013 and celebrated the connection between first responders and the community.

Dragonfly Habitat at the Cascades

California’s multi-year drought prompted Park Supervisor and Posse founder Tora Rocha to upgrade the Gardens at Lake Merritt’s 60’s-era Cascades water feature with a filtration system. Dragonfly expert Kathy Bigelow-Teller advised local Eagle Scout NAME in this Badge-earning design and the new habitat and filter was underwritten by Google and installed by Googleserve volunteers.

Childrens Fairyland Habitat

Oaklands storybook themed amusement park has developed their ongoing Monarch Magic program and planted extensive pollinator habitat within the park grounds.

KONO Bikeways Planters

The Pathway extends northward toward Berkeley along Telegraph Avenue. Along that route, the Posse helped install planters, each its own mini habitat for pollinators

Pollinator Pavilion at the 2016 San Francisco Flower and Garden Show

The Posse contributed fun and educational activities in a kid-friendly space at  the 2016 San Francisco Flower and Garden Show. Posse members also offered attendees their expertise to promote, encourage and facilitate pollinator gardens at residential properties throughout the Bay Area.

Lafayette Square Makeover

On Earth Day 2015, downtown Oakland’s Lafayette Square received a much-needed makeover and pollinators benefitted from several habitat plots planted that day. Oakland  integrated technology design company Teecom contributed funding and its employees added ## square yards of new habitat in one day.


Project-specific funding and employee volunteer hours bring the dream of interconnected pollinator habitat in Oakland ever closer to reality. Project Sponsorships enable you and your colleagues to build teamwork while giving back to the community. The Posse also can come to your workplace to give educational talks or plant habitat gardens. Our fundraising team can contact you if you message us.

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