How to Help
There are a variety of ways you can help preserve the western monarch butterfly population and support the efforts of the Western Monarch Trail.
Contact Your Local Resource Conservation District
California’s Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) are restoring the habitat the imperiled monarch butterfly needs to survive. RCDs were first founded after the Dust Bowl in the 1930s to bring federal and state funding and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers so that they could voluntarily conserve water, soil, and wildlife habitat on their land with the help of a local and neutral partner. RCDs are go-to hubs for conservation, providing local expertise and reliable technical assistance as non-regulatory, trusted, and publicly accountable organizations. RCDs are known for efficiently combining and leveraging resources from multiple sources through collaborative, innovative, and versatile partnerships. California residents can find their local RCD here.
Contact Your State Representative
If you live in the United States, you can contact your local elected officials and ask them to promote and support the conservation of the western monarch. Make it easy and fill out this PDF letter template, then send it to your state representatives.
Click here to determine your representative by entering your zip code. Click on your representative’s name and you will be taken to their website. Scroll to the bottom to find their office address. This is where you can mail your letter.
Kids (and the young at heart!) can also mail a coloring page created by the Xerces Society to send to their representative. Simply print out the monarch mask coloring sheet, color it in, and write a message on the back. Use the same instructions from the link above to determine the appropriate representative.
Using social media to help spread the word about western monarch conservation also makes a big difference! When you visit a Western Monarch Trail location, take a photo and post it using the hashtag #WesternMonarchTrail and tag us on Instagram at @westernmonarchtrail. Or if you plant a native nectaring plant, spot a monarch butterfly, or sport any Western Monarch Trail merch, use those same tags!
You can make a difference.
Count monarchs: Find an Overwintering Site – Western Monarch Count
Milkweed mapping: Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper
Participate in one of the following Habitat Certification Programs
These are not public spaces but they are invested in the protection of pollinators. Click on the programs below to visit their website.
While it might seem to be doing good, the captive rearing or handling of monarchs is discouraged by experts in the field. Researchers believe that among other factors, captive-reared monarchs exhibit poorer overall condition, have the potential to spread the parasite Ophyrocystis elektroscirra (Oe), and have a reduced capacity to migrate compared to wild monarchs.
See CDFW Monarch Handling FAQ for more information surrounding the issue of raising monarchs.
You can also help adult monarchs by planting native nectaring and pollinating plants in your home gardens for them to feed on during spring and summer breeding, fall migrations, and overwintering. Click here to find regional lists of native nectar plants.
While milkweed benefits monarch butterflies during the larval phase, only native milkweeds planted in the appropriate zones are effective and helpful. Planting milkweed outside of these zones disrupts their migration and can lead to the spread of disease among the monarchs. Click here to determine your zone and the proper guidelines for planting milkweed.
Do’s & Don’ts
Gardening effectively for monarchs and other pollinators. For more good resources, check out: Do’s and Don’ts of Gardening for Monarchs.
- Plant native nectaring plants in your home gardens. Click here for suggestions for plants in your area.
- Plant native milkweed where appropriate.
- Properly manage non-native milkweed that is already planted by pruning it back in November (but avoid planting non-native milkweed altogether if you can!)
- Use pesticides, herbicides, or toxins while gardening.
- Plant non-native milkweed – find out which milkweed is best for your region here.
- Raise monarchs, as it disrupts their natural migratory processes and can lead to the continuation of the monarchs’ decline.
- Tag monarchs unless you are certified to do so.