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Monarch Butterfly and Milkweed Conservation Resources

Monarch conservation has inspired people across North America to protect and enhance pollinator habitat.

Milkweed plants that serve as hosts for caterpillars and a nectar source for adult monarchs, are also important to other insects, birds, small mammals, amphibians and reptiles. When we plant or protect monarch habitat and avoid using pesticides, that habitat can be vital for ensuring crop pollination and also for reducing pest outbreaks. Natural areas and permanent or temporary plantings also protect landscapes, preventing soil erosion and reducing the movement of chemicals into groundwater and waterways.

Milder winters in the Northeast mean pests are more likely to survive and increase in numbers. Researchers have seen beneficial insects control pests when more than 20% of a farm is in diverse, perennial habitat. Increasing the health and diversity of native beneficial insects helps farms become more resilient to the impacts from our changing climate.

Below are resource links for supporting monarch conservation. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical assistance and funding opportunities for pollinator plans (NRCS Practice 146 Pollinator Habitat Enhancement Plans) and pollinator plantings (NRCS Practice 327 Conservation Cover) to improve monarch and other beneficial insect habitat on private lands. For more information or technical assistance on how to apply for NRCS programs, check out the 5 Steps to Assistance, including how to contact your local NRCS office.

(each has a lot of additional information about monarchs and/or milkweed)

  • Journey North - Tracks the movement of monarchs and other migratory animals with online maps based on observations contributed by community scientists.  Provides educational resources and supports a “Symbolic Monarch Migration” program that links children in the US, Canada, and Mexico.
  • Monarch Butterfly Habitat Exchange - Seeks to leverage private and public funds to support monarch conservation where it is most needed. Currently working in Central Texas, Northern Missouri, Iowa, and California's Central Valley.
  • Monarch Joint Venture - Partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and academic programs working together to protect the monarch migration across the United States. Go-to site for the latest science-based factsheets on every aspect of monarchs. Hosts webinars.
  • Monarch Watch - Manages the monarch tagging and way-station programs, and supports monarch conservation through education and other activities in collaboration with local to international groups and individuals.
  • Pollinator Partnership - Conservation and education group that sponsors Pollinator Conservation Week, creates an annual poster on pollinators with support from diverse collaborators, has regional plant lists (see plant list section), and provides teacher resources.
    • Pollinator posters - available for free from the NRCS Distribution Center (limit of 10/individual private citizens)
  • Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation - Primary NRCS partner for monarch conservation. Works closely with Monarch Joint Venture to provide the best science-based information to support monarch conservation. Has created regional plant lists for monarchs, a detailed milkweed guide, a milkweed seed finder app, community science opportunities, and, as part of a project for the Federal Highway Administration, roadside recognition factsheets.
    • Milkweed FAQs - Answers to frequently asked questions about milkweed