Monarch Butterfly in Crisis

Update: In July 2022, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) re-classified the migratory monarch butterfly as endangered on its “red list.”  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded that listing monarchs under the Federal Endangered Species Act would be warranted but is precluded due to other high priority species. Currently, the monarch is scheduled to be federally listed in 2024.

Spring 2021

This spring, we have some unfortunate news to share about the Monarch butterfly population. The overwintering numbers of western Monarchs dropped again this year (2020-21), to a total of only 1,914 monarch butterflies. That’s a 99% decline since the 1980’s. The Monarch butterflies that migrate along the West coast and West of the Rockies, spend the winter months in Southern California. “In only a few decades, a migration of millions has been reduced to less than two thousand butterflies,” said Stephanie McKnight, a conservation biologist with the Xerces Society who helps coordinate the counting of the Western populations.

The Eastern Monarch population fell this winter (2020-21) as well – a 26% decrease from the previous year. The Chart shown here represents the Monarch butterfly overwintering numbers in Mexico, which are measured in hectares (areas covered).

Chart from

Dr. Karen Oberhauser, director of the UW–Madison Arboretum, writes, “I have been studying and working to conserve monarchs and their habitat for over 35 years. This announcement, while not unexpected based on the numbers that we saw in the Upper Midwest last summer, is a reminder that we can’t rest in our efforts to conserve monarchs.” Other than plant Milkweed like crazy, which so many of you are doing already, you can urge the following groups in your community to create milkweed/monarch/pollinator habitat and promote the conservation of monarchs and other pollinators:

⁃ Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Future Farmers of America, and 4-H
⁃ Garden clubs, horticultural societies, Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists
⁃ Administrators of city gardens and parks
⁃ Garden centers, Landscaping firms, and businesses sensitive to their public image

Also, support organizations whose mission is aligned with native landscaping, and who’s work increases Monarch and pollinator habitat:

Wild Ones
Native Plant Societies
– Preservation and conservation organizations
– Land trusts

The Xerces Society website has a call to action page for the western Monarchs.

On Our Website:

Monarch Favorites
Shop for plants to support Monarchs from our list that includes a variety of Asclepias (Milkweed species) and their favorite nectar plants, too.

Monarch Gardens
Our pre-planned gardens designed specifically for Monarch butterflies, offer support for all season long. We’ve done the planning for you!

Monarch Sanctuary Custom Kit
Available for a limited time. This Custom Kit lets you fill a 32-Plant tray with plants from the Monarch Favorite list and save 25% on plants.