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Help Monarch butterflies in your community

Help Monarch butterflies in your community 2020-09-09T13:27:03+00:00

Monarch butterflies are amazing insects

Flying from southern Canada to Mexico each fall, monarchs are the only insect in the world known to migrate so far on an annual basis.

Monarchs are an important part of our ecosystems. They pollinate plants and are a food source for birds, insects, and other invertebrates.

Nature NB is supporting communities to help monarch butterflies

Monarchs are considered a species at risk due to habitat loss, pesticide use, and climate change. Nature NB is committed to educating and supporting New Brunswickers to conserve and protect monarchs across the province.

A monarch butterfly sits on a leaf.

There are many ways to help monarchs in your own community. You can:

Download our resources for tons of information and tips to protect monarchs!

Create a monarch-friendly garden

By growing food sources for monarch butterflies (flower nectar) and caterpillars (milkweed), you can help declining populations of monarchs while enjoying a beautiful and iconic visitor to your garden.

Milkweed plants are an essential part of a monarch-friendly garden since monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed plants.

There are two native milkweed plants in New Brunswick: Common Milkweed and Swamp Milkweed.

Common Milkweed (L) and Swamp Milkweed (R)

Sign up here to receive your free Swamp Milkweed seeds!

Monarch-friendly gardens should include nectar sources for the adult butterflies. Incorporating native plants is best as they are adapted to our environment and are therefore hardier and require less maintenance. Native flowers are also beneficial to other pollinators and will attract a variety of butterflies and bees to your garden.

Plan your garden to stagger the emergence, growing season, and blooming of wild flowers. This ensures a steady food supply for monarchs and other pollinators.

For a list of native plant species, download our monarch garden guide (above) or check out this butterfly garden resource from the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

Milkweed and other plants are not the only features that will attract monarchs to your garden. You can also:

  1. Leave a bare patch of soil among your flowers. Many butterflies take in salts and minerals by sipping mud puddles.
  2. Include a water feature so butterflies stay hydrated. You can use a shallow dish on the ground with a couple inches of water and a few flat rocks for basking.
  3. Avoid using pesticides in your garden. They do not discriminate and will harm beneficial pollinators along with pests. Ensure any new plants you purchase are not grown with neonicotinoids. These pesticides can persist in the plant for years and will harm pollinators.

Are you already growing milkweed and nectar plants? Then you can register your garden as a monarch waystation.

Monitor monarchs and milkweed to help researchers

You can help researchers understand more about monarch populations!

When you submit data to citizen science programs, you share valuable information about the abundance and distribution of monarchs and milkweed plants. This knowledge aids researchers and environmental groups to make appropriate conservation plans.

Your observations are crucial to knowing how best to protect monarch butterflies.

Monarch Watch asks the public to submit sightings of tagged monarch butterflies. If you see a monarch with a small white sticker on its wing, you can report it here! It is also a good resource for tips on growing milkweed and starting your own butterfly garden.

A monarch sits on a person's finger. The monarch has a small, circular tag on its wing.

MilkweedWatch allows the public to help monitor and protect milkweed by documenting where it is found.

The Mission Monarch program asks the public to check milkweed for monarch caterpillars, eggs, and adult butterflies in order to identify monarch breeding habitats.

eButterfly allows the public to help monitor the presence of any species of butterfly. It also provides a location to store all your individual butterfly photos.

iNaturalist helps the public identify living organisms. Connect with scientists and naturalists to learn more about nature. The iNaturalist app makes it easy to submit observations on the go from your smartphone.

Talk to your municipality

Municipalities across the monarch butterfly’s migratory range are taking conservation action through the Mayor’s Monarch Pledge.

Participating municipalities commit to implementing 3 of 24 action items within a year. 

Some examples of action items your city or town can take include:

  • Encouraging community garden groups to plant native milkweeds and nectar-producing plants.
  • Planting milkweed and native nectar-producing plants in medians and public rights-of-way.
  • Hosting a milkweed seed giveaway event.
  • Changing weed or mowing ordinances to allow for native plant habitats.
  • Adopting pesticides practices that are not harmful to pollinators.

Nature NB can help your community implement a number of the action items through our existing materials and programming!