Monarch & Milkweed Monitoring Project
What Are We Up To?
The St. Lawrence University Monarch & Milkweed Monitoring Project is responding to the dramatic population decline of monarch butterflies with student-led research and citizen science initiatives. Through on-campus experimentation and community outreach, we are looking at different ways of bolstering milkweed habitat (the essential plant for monarch butterfly survival) and encouraging the greater Canton area to get involved with monitoring the milkweed and monarch populations that we can all enjoy.
We have been experimenting with different growth methods to look into what the most viable option is for starting new milkweed colonies. We are looking at sowing seeds in wild plots on the SLU campus, in raised beds in the university’s Permaculture Garden, and in seed trays in the greenhouse. Soon, we will be collecting data from the wild plots on campus and transplanting those grown in more controlled settings to find out how we can all best support growing milkweed populations. All this is laying the groundwork for future experimentation to continue our efforts to better inform community milkweed management. Stay tuned for more information on what we do next!
How Can You Get Involved?
You can plant milkweed at your home! We will have information soon on what might be the best way to do at-home growing for our area, but you experiment as well.
To aid us, you can also make milkweed and monarch butterfly observations on https://www.inaturalist.org. Anywhere you see a milkweed plant or a monarch in any stage of its life (egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, or butterfly), whip out your smartphone and upload a picture to iNaturalist! We have a project called Monarch & Milkweed Monitoring Project, Canton, NY where you can view all of the milkweed and monarch butterfly observations uploaded in St. Lawrence County. Access the project here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/monarch-milkweed-monitoring-project-canton-ny. Your observations will be automatically added to the project if they match the parameters, so no extra steps on your end needed to participate!
Want a little more of an in-depth observation experience? You can participate in our monitoring survey at: https://arcg.is/rCvOC1. This survey will guide you along in making milkweed and monarch butterfly observations that are especially handy for us to have as data. You can complete as much or as little of this survey as you like. It is designed so that you can continue to monitor a plot or several plots throughout the summer and fall as the milkweed and butterflies go through their seasonal changes! Submit as many survey entries as you see fit.
Nature Up North
You can also submit your observations to Nature Up North at: https://www.natureupnorth.org/encounters. Your observations and data are useful to their organization as well, and the more collaboration and insights available to the community, the better!
Butterflies per hectare in winter colony
1 milkweed plant to feed 1 caterpillar
Year added to IUCN Red List as Endangered
4000 kilometers traveled in winter migration
Population decline over the last 20 years