Butterfly Effect: How Our Actions Decide the Monarch’s Fate
Advocacy One of our most beautiful, beloved and remarkable species is in trouble.
As with scores of bees, bats and other pollinators, the monarch butterfly population has plummeted over the past two decades, from a likely 1 billion in 1996 to a mere 56 million this year. If the decline continues, we risk losing one of nature’s most amazing migrant species.
Spurring the cycle
Each year monarchs make an incredible journey of up to 3,000 miles that takes several generations to complete, flying between their summer range across much of the U.S. and Canada to their mountain forest wintering grounds in Mexico.
"Every backyard, school, park, open field or roadside is potential monarch habitat."
The decline of monarchs and other pollinators is an ominous sign for the North American landscape and its inhabitants. Hundreds of thousands of wild and agricultural plant and tree species rely on pollinators to reproduce. In turn, their seeds, berries, fruits and nuts are essential for countless wildlife species—and us.
There is hope, but it won’t be easy. At each stage of their journey, monarchs need food and habitat. If we can meet their needs, we can succeed.
An international problem requires international solutions, and the Fish and Wildlife Service is collaborating with the governments of Mexico and Canada to monitor and restore monarch populations at a landscape scale.
At home, we are working with the National Wildlife Federation and other partners to invest millions of dollars, with a goal of restoring and enhancing hundreds of thousands of acres of monarch habitat and creating a million pollinator gardens nationwide.
Where you fit in
But we need the public’s help. Every backyard, school, park, open field or roadside is potential monarch habitat. We need millions of Americans to plant native milkweed and other pollinator-friendly plants. Understanding how to use insecticides, herbicides and other chemicals responsibly and avoid spraying at key times of the year is also critical.
With your help, we can magnify the impact of our investments and protect the health of the landscape that sustains us. And we can ensure that future generations of Americans experience the beauty and wonders of monarchs.