Monarch Butterfly Habitat Restoration on the Tonto National Forest

Monarch butterflies are amazing creatures!

They may look fragile, but they make one of the most epic migrations in the animal kingdom.

Now they are in trouble and need our help!

Why the concern?

One of the first reports of the monarch butterfly in the US, in 1857 described monarch butterflies appearing in “such vast numbers as to darken the air by the clouds of them.”

Numbers have declined greatly since the last century. One of the primary threats to monarch butterfly populations is loss of habitat.

The Life of a Monarch

Monarch caterpillar feeding on native Arizona milkweed.

  • The annual migration of North America’s monarch butterfly is a unique and amazing phenomenon. The monarch is the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration as birds do.
  • Monarchs you see in the summer have lives of only 2 to 6 weeks.
  • The “super generation” of monarchs is the one that migrates up to 3000 miles from late summer to April, from Canada to Mexico. It lives several months.
  • Our western monarchs migrate to both southern California and to Mexico.

Monarchs Need Milkweed!

Monarch butterflies lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed plants. The caterpillar that hatches feeds only on milkweed plants. Steroid toxins in the milkweed accumulate in the monarch caterpillar, making it bitter-tasting and poisonous to predators.

There is an international effort to help this amazing butterfly by planting native milkweed plants, from Canada to Mexico.

We are a small part of this huge effort. We grow and plant 100 to 120 native milkweed seedlings on the Forest every fall, water them for an entire year until they are well established, and monitor them for monarch eggs, larvae and butterflies.

Come help us with this project!!