Help Protect Our Beloved Butterflies
Monarch butterflies are among North America’s most loved species. Growing up in Nebraska, I remember seeing thousands of these butterflies visiting fields of wildflowers; I know that many of you grew up with similar experiences. Unfortunately, our children and grandchildren may not have the same opportunity to witness the beauty of monarchs flying across native prairies, farms, woodlots — or anywhere else. Monarchs are in trouble. Indeed, monarch populations have fallen by over 80 percent in just 20 years.
The Xerces Society is not a doom and gloom organization. With your support we hope to recover this species. Our staff strategically works on monarch conservation at all levels — through science, policy, outreach and education, and on-the-ground restoration and management.
We collaborate with scientists at universities and federal agencies, including the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to develop models to target protection and restoration efforts where they will have the greatest impact. We also conduct applied research to better understand how to restore and manage monarch habitat.
Protecting monarchs is an international effort and our work engages both the U.S. and Mexican governments in monarch conservation. We were a leading voice in getting monarchs included in President Obama’s pollinator strategy and, at the invitation of the Mexican government and the World Wildlife Fund-Mexico, I gave a presentation on monarchs last fall at the 2nd Symposium on Research and Conservation of the Monarch Butterfly in Valle de Bravo. Just recently, I was in San Diego attending the annual meeting of the Canada/Mexico/U.S. Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management, and monarch conservation dominated the agenda.
Outreach & Education
The backbone of our work is outreach and education around some of the least known but most important animals on the planet. Although monarchs are well known and loved by many, we have great strides to make toward engaging people actively in their conservation. We continually reach out to gardeners, educators, farmers, and land managers with information on how they can make a difference for monarchs.
Restoration & Management
In partnership with the Monarch Joint Venture, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as multiple state agencies and nonprofits, we are developing habitat management strategies and sources of milkweed seed (monarchs’ essential host plant), so that we can directly protect and restore critical habitat for the monarch.
Monarchs are imperiled, and it is critical that we intervene now to prevent further decline. It is estimated that we will need to protect and restore millions of acres of habitat planted with milkweed and other wildflowers to recover this species, making this one of the largest conservation efforts in North America.
How can you participate?
- Donate today, to support our conservation work!
- Plant native milkweed: This can be in your backyard, at your workplace, or at your school. Find sources of local, native milkweed seed in the U.S. using our Milkweed Seed Finder.
- Avoid using insecticides and herbicides: These may kill butterflies or caterpillars, or kill the plants that monarchs use for nectaring or breeding.
- Share the word: Talk to your friends, neighbors, and family about how important it is that we ensure a future for these beautiful creatures.
Thank you for your support!
by Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director