Wild for Monarchs
What You Can Do to Save Monarch Butterflies!


Butterflies in Illinois
Sunday, February 14, 2016
2:00 pm
Jarrett Prairie Center
7993 N. River Road
Byron, IL

Dr. Michael Jeffords an entomologist for the IL Natural History Survey and Susan Post, Biologist Control Specialist for the IL Natural History Survey, will share their passion for the butterflies found in our gardens and rare natural areas in our state, as well as breathtaking photographs that they have capture of many butterflies that call IL home. They also speak about what it takes to make a field guide and will have copies of their book for sale  (A Field Guide to Illinois Butterflies). 

Flight of the Butterflies Documentary
Friday, March 18, 2016
7:00 pm
Galena Territory Owners' Club
Galena, IL

The Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation is inviting the public to a free showing of “Flight of the Butterflies,” a stunning, 44-minute feature which the New York Times called “fascinating."  The showing will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 18, at the Galena Territory Owners' Club, 2000 Territory Drive, Galena. Free popcorn will be provided and beer, wine and soda will be available.  In the event of heavy snow, the movie will be shown on Saturday, March 19, with all other details the same.

The filmmakers follow the annual migration cycle of monarch butterflies, starting with a monarch they call “Dana” for her Latin name, Danaus plexippus.  In brilliant close-up images, we witness the life cycle of Dana, then her daughter – from egg to caterpillar to adult butterfly –as they travel north through the southwest and northern United States.  Then, the award-winning production team captures the up to 3000-mile migration of Dana’s “granddaughter” and the millions of butterflies that fly to a place in Mexico they themselves have never known; the overwintering grounds of their ancestors.  The movie also chronicles how the mystery of where the monarchs spend their winters was unlocked in the 1970’s by a massive citizen science project which tagged thousands of butterflies.  A Q&A afterwards will include one of those citizen scientists, a biology professor trained in entomology and genetics, and information on growing milkweed and other monarch-critical plants, vital if the dramatic loss of monarch habitat is to be slowed or reversed.

Citizen Science-Butterfly Monitoring Training
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Forest Preserves of Winnebago County
Click here for more information.


Wild About Monarchs links:
Two new Monarch Matters articles can be found under Wild for Monarchs, click here.

Meaningful Gardening
Monarch Matters - Fall is a great time to transplant milkweed plants.

Monarchs Joint Venture (MJV)
Wild Ones is a partner with MJV working to preserve Monarchs. In the face of declines in monarch numbers and habitat availability, MJV partners are pooling their efforts to protect monarch and pollinator habitat in the U.S.

MJV website
Types of milkweed to plant


Become a Butterfly Monitoring Volunteer with the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District.
Click here for more information.

Some Good News About Monarchs

On January 30th the Illinois Tollway Authority announced that they will plant milkweeds and create habitat for Monarch butterflies along 286 miles of the State's tollways. Read more... At the same time the Monarch Joint Venture released the 2015 population estimates for the number of Monarchs overwintering in Mexico, which is up 69% from the record low number last year, but still one of the lowest populations ever recorded.

The Tollway Authority is working with the Natural Resources Defense Council to create Monarch habitat along the tollways. Much of the decline in Monarch populations is blamed on habitat destruction. Monarchs lay their eggs only on milkweed, which is the sole source of food for the caterpillars that develop into the distinctive orange-and-black butterflies.

The eastern Monarch population colonies that overwinter in the mountains of Central Mexico are measured each year to estimate the number of butterflies in each colony. This year there are 9 different colonies, and the one in the El Rosario Sanctuary in Michoacan contains 50.4% of the total population. The annual overwintering count in Mexico is done in late December when the clusters are most compact and movement is minimal. This is the coldest time of the year and the Monarchs principally roost in oyamel trees although they use pines and other trees as well.

Scientists estimate that there are about 50 million butterflies per hectare. The largest number estimated covered more than 18 hectares and contained about one billion butterflies. The lowest population recorded was in 2013-2014 with only 0.67 hectares, about 33 millions Monarchs. This winter's estimate covers 1.13 hectares, or about 56.5 millions butterflies. The report can be read at Wild Ones is a partner of the Monarch Joint Venture.

Read more about what the Illinois Tollway Authority is doing to increase habitat:
   Daily Herald
   Chicago Sun Times
   The Washington Times (includes video)


Making a Future for Monarchs
Monarchs on 60 Minutes, March 8, 2015
Click here to view (hang in there through the commercials).

Monarchs Need Milkweed!
New research shows a certain type of milkweed can harm monarchs—but we still need to give these butterflies something to snack on. Read more...

Fish & Wildlife Service Launches Plan to Save Monarchs

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has launched a major new campaign aimed at saving the declining population of Monarch butterflies in North America. While Monarchs are found across the United States--as recently as 1996 numbering some one billion--their population numbers have declined by about 90 percent in recent years due to numerous threats, particularly loss of habitat, increased use of pesticides, and degradation of wintering areas in Mexico and California.

The Service announced in February that it will build a network of conservation partners to protect and restore important Monarch habitat to create oases for the iconic butterfly all across the country. The partnership will provide $2 million to fund conservation projects this year to restore and enhance more than 200,000 acres of habitat for Monarchs and support more than 750 schoolyard butterfly and pollinator gardens. The projects will focus on the Midwest I-35 corridor from Texas to Minnesota, an important breeding area for the eastern population's central flyway.

The Monarch's exclusive larval host plant and a critical food source is native milkweed, which has been eradicated in many farming areas by the increased use of herbicides. Rapid conversion of native short and tall grass prairie habitat to crop production in recent years has also had an adverse impact on Monarch populations in the Midwest.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says the Monarch butterfly serves as an indicator of the health of pollinators and the American landscape. The Monarch's population decline is symptomatic of environmental problems that pose risks to our food supply, the natural places that help define our national identity, and our own health. Conserving and connecting habitat for Monarchs will benefit other plants, animals and important insect and avian pollinators. For more information about the campaign to save the Monarch butterfly and how to get involved go to the Service's website.