Monarch Butterfly Conservation

Monarch butterflies might be best known for their incredible migration journey. Unfortunately, they are also becoming known for their struggle to survive in a changing world.


Monarch butterflies are one of the most charismatic micro-fauna in the insect world. Their bright orange color, coupled with an amazing multi-generation migration makes them the darling of the butterfly world. Unfortunately, they are also becoming known for their struggle to survive in a changing world.

In the 1990's, more than 1 million Western monarchs were recorded overwintering in southern California. In the winter of 2017-18, around 150,000 monarchs were counted. During the winter of 2018-19, a startling 20,456 monarchs were recorded. Why is the Western monarch population in decline? Unfortunately, over the years they have lost much of their overwintering habitat on the central California coast, along with breeding and migration corridor habitat loss. In addition, pesticide use has impacted these delicate creatures and climate change is challenging them in a variety of ways.

What are the solutions? How can the Deschutes Land Trust help?

Conserving land. Habitat loss is a big factor in monarch population declines. The Land Trust can help conserve monarch habitat by protecting the natural areas they need to survive.

Planting native milkweed. Milkweed plants are inextricably linked to monarch butterflies. They lay their eggs on milkweed and the emerging caterpillars feed exclusively on it. Then adult monarchs drink its nectar during breeding and migration. The Land Trust can help by planting milkweed at our protected lands, in our neighborhoods, and in our public spaces.

Education. Most people in Central Oregon have never seen a monarch butterfly. They simply do not know that Western monarchs are here and that they need our help. Concerted outreach can help change this story and help get more milkweed out and growing to feed our magnificent monarchs.

Collaboration. There are many statewide, regional, and national organizations working to help the monarch butterfly survive. The Land Trust is collaborating with this network to ensure sound, science-based, coordinated conservation.

How you can help

Help the Land Trust launch a monarch conservation program! Join our butterfly brigade! We need daring, early investors to help develop this program. Email Betsy Hartley for more information. We also encourage you to plant milkweed or become a community scientist for monarchs.

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