University of Minnesota

Collecting Data on Reared Monarchs for Citizen Science

Posted on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at 2:21 pm in Monarch Citizen Science

The decreasing monarch population has ignited concern across the country and many people are working to conserve this iconic species through actions like planting milkweed and nectar sources, limiting pesticide use, and engaging communities through educational efforts. Another great way to get involved is to join a citizen science project, and help to inform future priorities for monarch conservation across the United States.

Monarch mortality in the wild can reach 98%, and many monarch supporters save individual monarchs by bringing them indoors to raise them. While we recommend habitat restoration and enhancement as the most important actions you can take to ensure that the wild monarchs that do survive to adulthood have abundant and high quality habitat on which to reproduce or fuel for their migration, we also recognize that raising monarchs collected from the wild builds strong connections between people and monarchs. If you enjoy rearing monarchs, please use this activity to further our understanding of monarchs through citizen science. 

Participating in the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project’s (MLMP) rearing study (Activity 3) is easy! If you are already conducting weekly site monitoring for MLMP and reporting your observations, you can collect and rear late (4th and 5th) instars from your site and report the fate of these monarchs in Activity 3. If you collect earlier instars make sure to note this in the Site Information section. If you don’t have a regular monitoring site, or if you collect monarchs for somewhere other than your site, you can still submit your data on survival rates to us.  For these monarchs, just make sure to record as much information as possible about when, where, and at what stage you collected them. There is a section to report these in your MLMP profile called Parasitism (monarchs from other locations). 

Additionally, we encourage you to test any of the monarchs that emerge as adults for the OE parasite for Project Monarch Health, and tag any late summer monarchs through Monarch Watch (eastern monarchs), the Southwest Monarch Study (southwest monarchs), or Monarch Alert (CA monarchs). The data you submit are invaluable to our understanding of this butterfly, and will inform nation-wide restoration goals.

If you are passionate about rearing monarchs and want to ensure future generations are able to experience the joy that accompanies witnessing such a stunning natural phenomenon, join the army of citizen scientists working towards the conservation of the monarch butterfly!

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