American Spring Live: Monarch Larva Monitoring

What is a citizen scientist?

Quick Information

Can I Participate, If So How?

The best part of being a citizen scientist? Anyone can participate!

Here are how you can participate:

  1. Find a location with milkweed
  2. Monitor your milkweed, we will provide data sheets for your observations
  3. Share your data, you can either share it online or send hard copies to the University of Minnesota
  4. Submit anecdotal observations
  5. Share photos, art or experiences

Interested? Click here to start monitoring!   


Fun Facts

What Is The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project?

  • Developed in 1996 by the University of Minnesota, the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project focuses on monarch distribution and abundance during the breeding season in North America.
  • The main objective behind this project is to learn how populations of breeding monarchs change over time and understand why it happens.
  • This citizen project is made of volunteers, from across North America, collecting data that will be used by researchers and conservation managers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Monarchs, Did You Know?

  • Remember The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Well, in just 10-15 days caterpillars increase their weight almost 3,000 times.
  • At the weight of a paperclip, monarchs have an average pace of 25-30 miles per hour during their migration.
  • Monarchs joining migration each fall are about 3 or 4 generations behind from the previous year. However, they are still able to find the same groves of trees visited by their ancestors. This ability goes as an unsolved scientific mystery.

What’s Milkweed?

  • Milkweed is the one type of plant that monarch butterflies lay their eggs on.
  • Not only important to monarchs but other pollinators too because they maintain beneficial nectar.
  • Essential to the monarch population since is down 90% since 1995.

You are in a position to help! Please plant milkweed for monarchs. Follow this link to learn what milkweed species to plant in your region.

You can learn more by watching American Spring Live (episode 2 at 24 minutes) and watch Phil Torres, insect scientist, talk more about this magnificent species.

Debunking Myths: Milkweed

There are many myths surrounding milkweed that had to lead them to have a bad reputation.

Today, we will be debunking some of the main myths:

  1. Invasive weed, false. Although, “weed” may be in the name, milkweed is a beneficial wildflower. With over 100 species of milkweed native to the United States, none are considered “noxious weeds”.
  2. Only beneficial to monarchs, false. Like stated in a previous “Monarch Larva Monitoring Project: Fun Facts!” Milkweed is used by other species for their nectar. In addition, the milkweed bug eats various parts of the plant.
  3. Monarch caterpillars eat more than just milkweed, false. Milkweed is the only source of food that monarch caterpillars eat. When monarch eggs are not planted on milkweed, they cannot survive and ultimately starve to death.
  4. Due to milkweed being toxic, you shouldn’t plant it, false. Although milkweed does contain toxins, that does not mean it should not be planted. The milky sap that leaks from the steam or leaves contains the toxins and are only toxic to animals if consumed in large quantities. milkweed does not taste good, therefore animals usually do not eat it unless under extreme conditions.

Calling All Citizen Scientists, Help NGPC Today!

Nebraska Games & Parks is helping with the citizen science project, milkweed Tracker. The goal for this project is to track suitable monarch habitat across Nebraska. To participate in this effort to save the milkweeds, and ultimately the monarch butterflies, visit

In addition, if you have any questions contact Alie Mayes, watchable wildlife biologist, at