Gardening

Join in on the International Monarch Monitoring Blitz

By now, most people know we are in danger of losing the monarch butterfly migration in our lifetime. This critical situation was addressed in 2014 when President Obama met with President Pena Nieto of Mexico and Prime Minister Harper of Canada about it. At that meeting they agreed to establish a working group to ensure conservation of the monarch butterfly. Since then much has been done to encourage research into the habits of monarch butterflies. One such result is the establishment of the annual International Monarch Monitoring Blitz.

This is an event that takes place all across the range of the monarch butterfly that spans large parts of  the United States, Mexico and Canada. The purpose is to try to get a count of the number of monarch butterflies during a small window of time. This year the count started July 28 and runs through Aug. 5.

Scientists are looking for help during the blitz, they’re asking for “citizen scientists” to step forward and pitch in for the butterfly count.  It’s simple and fun to participate as a citizen scientist; anyone can do it. All you need to do is count the number of monarchs you see in all stages of the insect’s development; egg, larva, chrysalis and adultb and make some observations about milkweed plants. Once you’re done, report your findings online at the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project website.

Here’s one of the monarch caterpillars I counted as part of my tally for the blitz.

This is only the second year of this international event, so now’s your chance to get started as an amateur researcher. Years from now as the blitz expands and becomes more well known, you’ll be able to proudly tell your friends you were among the earliest participants.

I’m working on my part of the blitz right now  and hope you find the time to join in too. It’s a great way to spend some time outdoors while knowing you’re doing something tangible to help save our beloved monarch butteries.

Bob Dluzen
As a result of being a gardener for more than 40 years, 30 of those as a professional, Bob's gardening has become an integral part of his life. "It's the ever-changing seasons and the wide variety of plants and gardens that keeps me intrigued," he says. Bob lives and gardens in rural Monroe County.