Red Admiral butterfly on coneflower.

Monarch caterpillar. 
Photo: Courtney Celley / USFWS

Monarch fanning its wings after hatching.
Photo: Joanna Gilkeson / USFWS

Citizen Science Project

Help Butterflies this Summer

Nothing says summer like butterflies.  But these beautiful pollinators need our help ~ as much as we need theirs.  Here are some great ways to help scientists learn more about these important insects:

Monarch Larva Monitoring Project
Monitor patches of milkweed weekly to count monarch eggs and larvae, and assess milkweed density. This data will help scientists determine the distribution and abundance patterns of monarch butterflies in North America.

The parasite Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE), which is not harmful to humans, limits the Monarch butterfly's ability to survive in the wild. This project involves capturing butterlies and swabbing their abdomens to collect parasite spores. Families, retired persons, classrooms, monarch organizations, nature centers, and individuals are encouraged to participate ~ no special skills or knowledge required.

Monarch Watch Tagging 
Through this project, Monarch Watch hopes to interest students in the conservation of habitats critical to the survival of the monarch butterfly and its magnificent migrations. 

Monarch Waystations  
Help offset the loss of milkweeds and nectar sources -- critical Monarch habitats -- by creating "Monarch Waystations" in home gardens, at schools, businesses, parks, zoos, nature centers, along roadsides, and on other unused plots of land. Without a major effort to restore milkweeds to as many locations as possible, the monarch population is certain to decline to extremely low levels. Once a “waystation” has been created, it can be certified and a sign may be purchased from Monarch Watch.

The Red Admiral and Painted Lady Research Site
Help scientist learn more about Vanessa butterflies, including Red Admirals and Painted Ladies. How do they migrate and distribute themselves across North America each year? Your data will be added to an interactive map that shows how their range expands northward in the spring, and retreats southward in the fall. 

Here are some lessons you might find useful:

Monarch Sister Schools Program


Monarch Butterfly in North America
U.S. Forest Service resources, including pamphlets, posters, lesson plans, citizen science projects.