Northern Nevadans asked to monitor Monarchs

Monarch Butterfly on milkweed
Monarch Butterfly on milkweed(Terri Russell)
Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 3:58 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The Monarch is one of the most studied butterfly species in our country. They are known for their migration from the United States and Canada to California and Mexico.

The butterflies do come to Northern Nevada when the weather heats up, to mate and lay their eggs. When the butterfly emerges from its shell, it heads back to California.

Their numbers are dwindling

“They have decreased significantly since people have started counting them,” says Kristin Szabo from the Nevada Division of Natural Heritage. “They are down 99% from what we use to know. They use to number in the millions back in the 80s and 90s,” she says.

A big scientific study is underway through various universities from coast to coast to learn more about the Monarch’s migration.

Called the Great Monarch Mystery Challenge, researchers know they cannot do it alone. They are asking Northern Nevadans to document monarch sightings in the months to come. By using a cell phone and taking a picture, local residents can download the image on a special APP called “i naturalists.”

“Any stage, from the egg, all the way up to adult,” says Szabo of the various pictures being requested. “There is a lot of information on-line on what those different stages look like. The eggs are really, really tiny. So a lot of times they are tough to see unless you are on your knees looking at the underside of milkweed leaves,” she says.

If you’d like to help the iconic butterfly, you might consider planting native milkweed which is the larvae’s main food source. Adults feed on nectar plants.

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