Monarchs and Milkweeds
Monarchs are some of the most charismatic and amazing butterflies in the world. With their distinctive coloring, long-distance migrations, and dependence on a specific group of plants - milkweeds, this species is a marvel and a delight.
Similarly, milkweeds are a beloved plant of many gardeners and native plant enthusiasts. While they can get a bad reputation for being weedy and invasive, these plants provide critical habitat for monarch larvae and adults of many species. Many species are attractive and some have a lovely fragrance.
The monarch and the habitat they require (prairies, ditches, gardens, etc. that host milkweeds) are in decline, however. The butterfly was petitioned for the Endangered Species Act listing in 2014 throughout the United States because of the declining number of monarchs. The number of monarchs declined by approximately 50% since 1995 (Xerces Society).
Need for Data
In Wyoming, we have very little information about monarchs. Researchers have heard for years that they're common, though the folks seeing monarchs haven't had a place to send in information about their sightings. Every county has at least one observation, but we do not know how common monarchs are in our state.
With your help, we can better understand where monarchs travel through Wyoming, what time of year, how many, and whether they reproduce here. We can also find where the 10+ species of milkweeds exist, see if they're hosts to any monarch young, and harvest some of their seeds to plant in nearby gardens.
You can do this by submitting observations of any monarchs and/or milkweeds you find in Wyoming to the WyoBio website. Pictures, information about where the butterfly or plant was, date, how many, and other details are very important!