This website last updated December 13, 2013

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The Southwest Monarch Study is researching the migration patterns of monarch butterflies in Arizona and the Western United States. It was once believed that monarch butterflies East of the Rocky Mountains flew to the mountains near Mexico City for the winter and monarchs West of the Rockies flew to the coast of California. Through Fall tagging in Arizona and the Southwest (Nevada, New Mexico, Southern California deserts), we have learned that this is not always the case.

There is much more to learn about the wild monarch migration in Arizona and throughout the Western states. If you love monarch butterflies, consider joining our study.

Our Mission:

  1. To identify and describe the migration and breeding patterns of Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus) in the Western United States.
  2. To provide a meaningful research project for citizen scientists of all ages.
  3. To encourage and monitor Monarch Butterfly conservation.

How do we do this?

  1. We tag Monarch Butterflies during their Fall migration from August through November.
    See how to tag a Monarch. Click here
  2. We monitor milkweed populations throughout the West. Why is milkweed important? Click here
  3. We look for habitats that attract Monarch Butterflies.
  4. We actively support the North American Monarch Conservation Plan (NAMCP).
  5. We encourage the development of monarch habitats and Monarch Waystations. (For the lower deserts, download our publication Low Desert Monarch Waystations and Butterfly Gardens here. (PDF reader needed)) Look here for publications for other areas in the future.
  6. We provide educational programs to raise monarch awareness.

Who can participate?                  
         
Everyone! All ages can learn to tag monarchs!

Since 2007, citizen-scientists have tagged thousands of monarch butterflies in Arizona. Some of these monarchs flew to Mexico, and others to the coast of California. We have discovered monarch breeding habitats and we are also learning about monarchs who spend the winter in Arizona. We are very excited by these recoveries (a recovery is a tagged monarch reported in a distant location), but we need more. Come and join us in some of the most beautiful parts of Arizona and the Western United States, have fun, and contribute to the understanding of one of the world's most spectacular natural phenomena, the monarch migration.

If you are interested in joining this exciting research, or would like more information about our recoveries, email:

swmonarchs@yahoo.com

 



Through the National Audubon Society's "Pennies for the Planet" campaign, Southwest Monarch Study has been awarded $7,000 to be used for the monarch butterfly overwintering habitat at Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area in Phoenix. If you would like to be part of this exciting project, email Gail Morris, project coordinator.