Monarchs are some of the most charismatic and amazing butterflies in the world. With their distinctive coloring, long-distance migrations, and dependence on a specific group of plants - milkweeds, this species is a marvel and a delight.
Similarly, milkweeds are a beloved plant of many gardeners and native plant enthusiasts. While they can get a bad reputation for being weedy and invasive, these plants provide critical habitat for monarch larvae and adults of many species. Many species are attractive and some have a lovely fragrance
The monarch and the habitat they require (prairies, ditches, gardens, etc. that host milkweed) are in decline, however. The butterfly was petitioned for the Endangered Species Act listing in 2014 throughout the United States because of the declining number of monarchs. The number of monarchs declined by approximately 50% since 1995 (Xerces Society).
In Wyoming, we have very little information about monarchs. Researchers have heard for years that they're common, though the folks seeing monarchs haven't had a place to send in information about their sightings. Every county has at least one observation, but we do not know how common monarchs are in our state.
With your help, we can better understand where monarchs travel through Wyoming, what time of year, how many, and whether they reproduce here. We can also find where the 10+ species of milkweeds exist, see if they're hosts to any monarch young, and harvest some of their seeds to plant in nearby gardens.
You can do this by submitting observations of any monarchs and/or milkweeds you find in Wyoming to iNaturalist. Pictures, information about where the butterfly or plant was, date, how many, and other details are very important!
Community science is a way for all Wyomingites to help gather biological data that matters to society. We are looking for volunteers to watch for monarch butterflies and milkweed plants throughout our state. With your help, we will know when and how many monarchs migrate through Wyoming, and where and which milkweeds grow in the state.
Monarchs and Milkweeds is a community science program. Click here to learn how to get involved!
The Monarchs and Milkweeds program is designed to work with you - community scientists across Wyoming - to gather observations of where, when, and how many monarchs and milkweed plants you find in the state. Through this, we hope to gain a better understanding of where monarchs migrate through Wyoming, at what time of year, and in what densities. We also hope to learn where and which species of milkweeds exist in Wyoming. With your help, we all can learn more about these wonderful organisms!