Here are several additional ways to get involved with western monarch community science!
- Monarch Alert: Monarch Alert is a community-science based research project based out of Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA. The project focuses on demography and population fluctuations of western monarchs by sampling overwintering populations in San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties. You can get involved with Monarch Alert by tagging and releasing monarchs.
- Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History: The PG Museum offers a community science program to students and adults interested in monitoring monarch overwintering sites across Monterey County from November through February. They have a number of other volunteer opportunities at both the museum and the Pacific Grove Monarch Sanctuary.
- Saline Valley Monarch Count: Experience counting monarchs at some of the most intriguing inland overwintering sites in the Saline Valley of Inyo County, California. The Saline Valley Monarch Count is seeking adventure community scientists, avid hikers and those with wilderness experience to help count overwintering monarchs in Saline Valley weekly, from October through January.
Opportunities Across the Country
- Journey North: Report your sightings of the monarch migration, the first eggs, caterpillars, pupae, or adults of the season, fall roosts, and other observations! Check out Journey North’s maps to watch the movement of monarchs across the country. The east coast is well represented, but they could use more data points from the western U.S.!
- Project Monarch Health: Monarch Health is a community science project to track the spread of a protozoan parasite, called O.e., across North America. Volunteers sample wild monarchs and collect any spores from the parasites that may be present on a monarch’s abdomen. Samples are then sent back the project’s lab in Georgia, where they are analyzed.
- Monarch Larva Monitoring Project: Researchers at the University of Minnesota Monarch Lab are teaming up with community scientists across the United States and Canada to collect long-term data on larval monarch populations and milkweed habitat. You can join their project to better understand how and why monarch populations vary in time and space.
- Southwest Monarch Study: The Southwest Monarch Study researches the migration patterns of monarch butterflies in Arizona and the western U.S. Volunteers can join the study by tagging monarchs in the southwest states and reporting sightings.
- Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper: Help us learn where and when monarchs breed in each of the western states by collecting observations of milkweed and monarchs. Check out the website to explore data and add your own.
Rearing monarchs is not a conservation strategy for the species. However, captive rearing a few (<10) monarchs for education can be a great opportunity to see their life cycles up-close (although watching them in the wild is even better!). If you are rearing monarchs for community science projects, such as tagging or monitoring parasites or OE levels, you should still keep the numbers of butterflies you raise low. Never buy, ship, or move monarchs long distances. To learn more about this issue, read the blog “Keep Monarchs Wild!” and Monarch Joint Venture’s hand out “Rearing Monarchs: Why or Why Not?”.