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1 Campaign | Namibia, Africa
In celebration of the monarch annual migration,
We, too, shall go the distance.
The time is now to lend our care
So that monarchs can continue to soar,
Over land and water,
To breeding habitats in the US and Canada,
To overwintering habitats in Mexico and coastal California.
Monarch butterflies need our help. Over the past two decades, the two populations of North American monarchs have declined. For the Eastern monarch population, which migrates every year from the northern United States and southern Canada to mountains in central Mexico, this means their amazing annual journey may be threatened. The Western population has experienced even more drastic declines.
Many factors threaten monarchs and their migration. Climate change is leading to extreme weather events that threaten monarch survival. Unsustainable land management practices have resulted in habitat loss in breeding, migrating, and overwintering areas.
In 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that monarchs warranted listing under the federal Endangered Species Act but were precluded from listing by other species at even greater risk. In Canada, the monarch butterfly was listed as endangered by the Committee for the Status of Endangered Wildlife in 2016.
Now in its 28th year, Journey North tracks migration and seasonal change. Harnessing the power of hundreds of citizen scientists across North America, Journey North monitors monarch migrations and the milkweed plants upon which the caterpillars feed. During the winter, Journey North guest writers report from the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in the mountains of central Mexico.
As citizen scientists enter their observations and photographs, Journey North displays the information on interactive maps. The volunteer-generated data also informs conservation action.
Many questions remain: How do monarchs use and move through habitat throughout the year? How are migration patterns changing? What factors might be causing these changes? What might these changes mean for monarch survival? Observations by Journey North citizen scientists help answer these questions.
As a program of the UW-Madison Arboretum, Journey North advances the Arboretum’s focus on ecologically sustainable relationships between people and the land through integrative, innovative, and collaborative science, stewardship, education, and public engagement.
Over 100,000 Journey North community members contribute 50,000+ sightings per year. This crowdsourced effort makes possible our mission to understand, preserve and protect migratory species like the monarch butterfly.
In the Fall, the formation of monarch roosts signal the beginning of migration as the monarchs move across the continent, from Ontario to Texas to Mexico.
Peak migration events are a wonder to see.
During the winter, monarchs require cool, humid conditions to roost, which they find in sheltered trees. These overwintering roosts protect monarchs from frost and too much sunlight, wind, and heavy precipitation. Only a few places meet these conditions: along the Pacific coast of California and the high elevation forests of central Mexico.
The Eastern population of Monarch Butterflies arrival in the Oyamel Fir forests of central Mexico is celebrated by the surrounding communities. Indeed, the monarch is interwoven in the cultural and religious ceremonies of these indigenous communities.
Excitement builds as communities await the arrival of monarchs.
Excitement builds as monarchs make their way back into the U.S. in the Spring, laying eggs on milkweed plants along their way. Monarch eggs are tiny, approximately 1 mm long. Female monarchs can lay 300 – 400 eggs that hatch in three to eight days. Monarch caterpillars feed continuously, increasing their body weight 2000-fold. After 9 – 14 days of feeding, the caterpillar transforms into a chrysalis and the adult emerges 9 – 15 days later
After an early spring generation in the southern US, adults continue the migration north, expanding into their summer breeding range. They then go through two non-migratory generations before the cycle starts anew with the fall migratory generation.
In addition to milkweed, monarch butterflies need flowering plants for nectar during spring and fall migration and throughout the summer.
The Monarch Butterfly builds bridges across Canada, the US and Mexico.
What can you do to help?
Buy art here on the ENDANGERED site, knowing 70% of your purchase goes directly to Journey North and monarch butterflies.
Learn how you can create habitat for monarchs and other pollinators from the Monarch Joint Venture.
Spread the word! Monarch conservation requires an all-hands-on-deck approach.
We can make a difference.
The survival of this species revolves around the choices we as humans make.
All images provided by Journey North and the volunteers who gathered data and images for the project.