NDNH looks to public for clues to recover Monarch Butterflies

Did you know that Monarch Butterflies serve a vital role as a pollinator supporting ecosystems across Nevada? Unfortunately, Monarch populations in the west have declined by more than 99% since the 1980s for various reasons, including climate change, extreme weather, habitat loss, pesticides, and a decrease in essential food sources, such as milkweed.

In commemoration of “National Learn About Butterflies Day” on March 14, the Nevada Division of Natural Heritage is urging Nevadans to participate in the Western Monarch Mystery Challenge now through April 22, 2021. By following these simple steps, you have the opportunity to contribute to scientific research that will help inform key Monarch Butterfly conservation and recovery strategies:

  1. Download the FREE iNaturalist app on your apple or android device, or download the app to your desktop computer by visiting www.iNaturalist.org.
  2. Keep an eye out for Monarch Butterflies – whether you’re taking a walk in nature, strolling around town, or spending time in your backyard. If you know of patches of milkweed in your neighborhood, monitor them throughout the summer, carefully observing the plants for eggs or signs that caterpillars have been eating the leaves.
  3. If you spot a butterfly, snap a photo and upload it to the iNaturalist database. Be sure to fill in the location field, too. The images do not need to be high quality, they can even be blurry and from far away!

Although reports of Monarchs are being requested from across the state, there is a particular focus in southern Nevada, where very few records have been reported to the Nevada Division of Natural Heritage.

“Monarch butterflies are not only beautiful, along with all native pollinators, they are vital to the health and wellbeing of ecosystems all over Nevada,” said Kristin Szabo, Administrator of the Nevada Division of Natural Heritage. “Supporting our research by tracking where Monarchs occur in Nevada, particularly during the spring, will help inform conservation efforts for the long-term protection and rehabilitation of this iconic species.”

Want to help foster the Monarch Butterfly population in your neighborhood? Planting native milkweed and nectar plants in your garden is a great and easy way to provide important habitat.

For more information on Monarch Butterflies and the iNaturalist platform, visit www.iNaturalist.org

For more information on the Nevada Division of Natural Heritage, visit http://heritage.nv.gov/