The Xerces Society recently released a Western Monarch Call to Action plan. According to the recent Xerces Society Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count, the Western Monarchs are in trouble and now is the time to take ACTION.
The Western monarch population needs your help and this blog will tell you how. First, I want to mention some of the organizations that are doing important work for the Monarchs.
Art Shapiro, a professor of Evolution and Ecology at University of California- Davis, has been collecting data on the California Monarch populations for 34 years! A link to his site is here. The Southwest Monarch Study is also doing research in Arizona and the Southwestern United States to better understand the monarch migration. The Xerces Society recently released a Western Monarch Call to Action plan which I am going to summarize below.
1.) Protect and manage California overwintering sites.
In summary, we need to work at local, regional and state levels to protect overwintering habitat in California and stop the destruction of overwintering sites. You can also contact your local elected official to ask that monarch overwintering sites in your area be protected.
2.) Restore breeding and migratory habitat in California.
The primary focus for habitat restoration should be (but not limited to) the Coast Range, Sacramento Valley, and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
We need people who live in these areas to plant habitat, both nectar-producing native species as well as native milkweed species, especially early and late bloomers which include:
Woollypod (Asclepias eriocarpa),
California (A. californica),
Heartleaf milkweed (A. cordifolia)
Narrowleaf (A. fascicularis)
Showy milkweed (A. speciosa).
In the desert southwest of California, plant rush (A. subulata) and desert milkweed (A. erosa).
AVOID planting non-native Tropical Milkweed, a non-native species which stays evergreen and does not die back in areas with mild winters—interrupts the monarchs’ natural migratory cycle, leading to disease build-up and winter breeding
Ask your local nursery to start supplying native milkweed. Organize a group to collect milkweed seed and propagate it. Engage with seed companies, plant nurseries, and land management entities to work together to ramp up production and ensure a diverse supply of native milkweeds and nectar plants which are insecticide free. Click here to find a monarch nectar plant guide for your region..
3.) Protect monarchs and their habitat from pesticides
We need to stop using pesticides and seek out non-chemical options to prevent and manage pests in your garden and landscaping. We need to push to suspend use of neonicotinoids that are known to harm pollinators.
4.) Protect, manage, and restore summer breeding and fall migration monarch habitat outside of California.
Identify existing monarch habitat around you so you can work to protect it. Choose an overwintering site near you to start monitoring here.
Conduct management activities such as mowing, burning, and grazing in monarch habitat when monarchs are NOT present. Restore monarch habitat in regions where monarch habitat has been lost such as the Columbia Plateau, Snake River Plain, and riparian areas.
Visit Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper to preview maps of the areas with the highest monarch habitat suitability in the West. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in receiving copies of the associated map products for planning or research purposes.
5.) Answer key research questions about how to best aid western monarch recovery.
"Right now, we need Californians and Arizonans to collect observations of monarchs and milkweeds, especially in the early spring (February–April), the period in which monarchs leave the overwintering sites and which scientists know least about.
In the next few weeks/months, we need eyes looking out for monarchs across the rest of the West, too, in particular, in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana. "
Thank you to all of the monarch conservation agencies, citizen scientists, teachers, park workers and monarch lovers for all of the work you do.