Monarchs and pollinators

Saving the Monarch

The Monarch butterfly is a beautiful species; perhaps the most recognized of all butterflies and was once a common sight in Missouri. In addition to the aesthetics it brings, the Monarch is an important indicator species for the health of the eco-system; and specifically an indicator of the status of pollinators and other invertebrates. Pollinators are vital to the production of healthy crops for food, fibers, edible oils, medicines, and other products. The commodities produced with the help of pollinators generate significant income for the agricultural economy. Pollinators are also essential components of the habitats and ecosystems that many other wild animals rely on for food and shelter.

Recent years have seen significant decrease in populations of pollinators; to such a degree that pollinators have become a national priority of many federal and state agencies and citizen groups. Last count shows that current Monarch population numbers (over-wintering) are less than 10% of the population level of 1998. The 90% decline in Monarch numbers is an indicator of an eco-system in trouble. Missouri 4-H wants to join in the fight to bring back the Monarchs.

Missouri 4-H is joining numerous other agencies and organizations and is launching an effort to save the Monarch butterfly and other pollinators. Won’t you contribute to that effort as a 4-H club, project group, family or individual?

This webpage will grow and include more information as the program is developed. But it’s not too early to plan to help in this effort.

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    Things to do

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      Plant monarch habitat

      4-H Clubs, project groups, or 4-H members/families are strongly encouraged to get “hands on” in saving the Monarch by developing suitable habitat. Any 4-H group, member or family can establish habitat plots. Information and assistance is available from a variety of sources. 4-H plans to develop an online database that will allow us to keep a record of the many (hopefully) 4-H efforts to save the beautiful Monarch.

      Monarch Habitat Demonstration Plot - MINI-GRANTS

      Missouri 4-H is proud to announce a cooperative effort of Missouri Department of Conservation, Grow Native! retailers and Missouri 4-H; funded by the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation.

      This project provides matching mini-grants to 4-H Clubs or members across the state to plant and maintain monarch habitat gardens on highly visible public properties such as county courthouses, city parks, fairgrounds, school grounds, highway right-of-ways, etc. The purpose of the demonstration plots is to publicly promote plantings that restore monarch habitat and to engage city mayors, town councils or county commissions, other public entities and local media.

      Participating 4-H clubs, project leaders, members will be issued $50 vouchers by the state 4-H office that can be redeemed at GrowNative! plant retailers covering up to half of the cost of landscape plantings for each 100 square feet of habitat. Some GrowNative! retailers will offer additional discounts to 4-H Clubs.

      Plantings must meet specifications provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation. The Department will provide signs for the plots which include the MCHF, Department and 4-H logos. Statewide and local media promotions of the plantings by GrowNative! and Missouri 4-H will promote Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation and MDC support.

      Contact local Master Gardeners or Master Naturalists for expertise and assistance. Most should be glad to help. Your local University of Missouri Extension office can provide you contact info; or see the resources for a list.

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      Monitor and report on the monarch migration

      Join other citizen scientists and help track the Monarch butterfly migration this year. Citizen scientists are making important contributions to the understanding of monarchs and migration. Report your monarch sightings to Journey North; and record in a 4-H record or journal. All sightings will be included on Journey North’s real-time maps.


      • First monarch you see in the Spring
      • First milkweed plant to emerge
      • First monarch egg
      • First monarch larva
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    Resources for all levels

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