University of Minnesota

Citizen Science Research

Volunteers monitoring the milkweed patch. (Photo: Priya Shahani)

Citizen scientists of all ages, gardeners and naturalists, university scientists, and conservation organizations are involved with research, monitoring, and conservation focused on monarchs. These groups are working together to better understand monarch distribution and abundance across North America, and to better understand the magnificent monarch migration.

Citizen scientists can participate in an assortment of different projects. The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project targets the understanding of monarch egg and larval distribution in monarch breeding grounds throughout North America. Citizen scientists report data online of their weekly site monitoring, milkweed density, monarch parasitoid information, and more. Citizen scientists can also report sightings of migrating monarchs, milkweed emergence, and first egg sightings to Journey NorthMonarch Watch engages citizen scientists in monarch tagging and habitat conservation work through the tagging program and the Monarch Waystation program. Monarch tagging data can be used to better understand monarch migration patterns. The Waystation program provides guidelines for establishing quality monarch habitat in a wide variety of landscapes. Project Monarch Health educates and enables citizen scientists to test and report the occurrence of a protozoan parasite in monarchs (Ophryocystis elektroscirrha). The North American Butterfly Association is a membership-based organization focused on conservation for butterflies to allow for increased enjoyment of them. Members participate in butterfly counts that aid in a better understanding of butterfly populations. To learn about more monarch citizen science opportunities, visit the Monarch Joint Venture's citizen science page

In addition to research and monitoring, many individuals and organizations teach about monarchs, habitat conservation, and science inquiry. The MonarchLab’s Monarchs in the Classroom program offers education in the form of teacher workshops, an annual Insect Fair, and curricula to inspire science inquiry in classrooms and outdoor learning gardens. 

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