Monitoring the Monarch Situation

A Quick Guide to MonarchsThe Case of the Missing Monarchs, which we reported on last summer, continues. For the second year in a row, observers are noting very few of these beloved bright orange fixtures of summer.

Their absence brings up a lot of questions, many of which cannot yet be answered conclusively. What we do know:

  • Monarch wintering habitat in the mountain forests of central Mexico has been greatly depleted in recent decades.
  • Because monarchs travel over such a wide area, they’re vulnerable to environmental change all along their route.

Stay Informed

There are many great resources closely monitoring the monarch situation including:

  • The Monarch Joint Venture, a partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental agencies, and academic programs.
  • The Xerces Society a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat.
  • And, locally, the Massachusetts Butterfly Club, a chapter of the North American Butterfly Association.

Spread the Word

The more people that know about the monarch’s plight the better. Share our Quick Guide to Monarchs, which explains how to identify a monarch (versus its lookalike, the viceroy) as well as other useful information.

19 thoughts on “Monitoring the Monarch Situation

  1. john horvath

    Saw an encouraging display of Monarchs caterpillars while visiting Thuya Garden on Mt Desert Island in Maine last week. A small plot – about 6 x 3 feet – of milkweeds was almost entirely consumed of their leaves by tens of caterpillars ( < 50?). Several chrysalises (on the bare milkweeds and nearby ferns). A few adults also seen flying in the garden.

    Reply
  2. Johanna McCarthy Korpita

    I have raised Monarchs in my classroom for the last 20 years. Last year, I only found 8 eggs and the milkweed was also hard to find. I live in a rural town in western MA and despite an abundance of milkweed throughout western MA this summer, I have not see a single Monarch and no eggs or evidence that the plants had been visited by Monarchs. So sad. My Second Graders will be very disappointed. This is a much anticipated activity. The students learn about the plight of the butterflies and they look for ways to teach others about the difficulties that the Monarchs are facing.

    Reply
    1. Paul Lauenstein

      Johanna,

      Thank you for caring about monarchs and for encouraging your students to care too.

      I hope you can find a way to activate your students to speak out about environmental degradation in some way. We are losing species so fast that the current era is being referred to as the sixth great extinction. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction.

      Also, consider purchasing monarch eggs and trying to reintroduce them in your area.

      Paul Lauenstein, Sharon, MA

      Reply
  3. Larry

    The Cambridge Fresh Pond Water Resources Community Outreach program today released about 24 Monarchs, after several weeks of programs to replace invasive plants with milkweed and other butterfly-friendly natives at the Reservation. The idea was to illustrate the connections within and between the ecosystem and our access to good water. About 200 people showed up to watch! People care about this creature!

    Reply
  4. Terri Chegwidden

    So far this summer I have seen one Monarch in my brother’s garden in Woodbridge, CT & one in my garden in Monterey, MA.

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  5. Rita Grossman

    Every year, we spend time in the Damariscotta region (Maine) on a property that has milkweed and Monarchs. Last year, I did not see ANY. This year, everyday I saw at least 1-3 (open meadow and edge), on the property, and had random sightings as we walked the area. Very encouraging!

    Reply
    1. Paul Lauenstein

      Hi Rita,

      I am very glad to hear you are seeing monarchs in Damariscotta.

      I have not seen one monarch here in Sharon, MA for the past two summers, despite abundant milkweed.

      Only two monarch sightings in New England have been reported at the BAMONA web site in 2014 (one on Block Island and one on Cape Cod). See: http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Danaus-plexippus

      I encourage you to sign up for a free BAMONA membership and submit your sightings of monarchs in Damariscotta.

      Sincerely yours,

      Paul Lauenstein
      Sharon, MA

      Reply
  6. Ann Byers

    Today is 8-20-14. I am in Gloucester, MA, & have seen NO monarchs. However, a friend, Sharon Horovitch, in Waltham, got some great pix of a single female Monarch in her garden on 8-18-14.

    Reply
  7. Dianne Meak

    I live in the southern part of Dover, New Hampshire, fairly rural for this area. For the second year in a row, I have not seen a Monarch. The fields around us are full of milkweed and some folks, me for one, are planting milkweed in our gardens. So, we have the food and milkweed habitat, just no Monarchs! Sad, very sad! :o(

    Reply
  8. Christine

    I’ve had a large butterfly bush in my urban front yard that for many years, drew a variety of butterflies, including the Monarch, –but last year, I saw only 3. This 2014 season, three weeks into August, I’ve seen no Monarchs at all.

    (My next door neighbor told me last week that she’s enjoyed the daily butterfly activity in my yard from her porch, for years, – but this year has been a disappointment.)

    Reply
  9. Mary Ellen Ryall (@butterflyikway)

    We have received sightings from MA and NH, but still no monarchs in Fitchburg, MA.

    Reply

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