The information in this state update was provided by Virginia Rivers,

Please contact her for additional information about the update.


Idaho is a quiet area during the winter months with respect to monarch butterflies.  It is a time to think about what happened in the past season, and what the coming season will bring. Thanksgiving counts and Christmas counts in our southern and western neighboring states have certainly always been a reliable source of information, but it was not easy to learn details beyond count numbers.  We can think about how our upcoming season will play out:  Will the numbers increase?  Will they decrease?

Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has affected our attention to monarchs as well as everything else in our world.  It did not end it, but it changed it. Meetings had to be cancelled, informal connections were fewer and quite cautious, handling and sharing of equipment was a delicate task. 


More importantly, however, it did not stop us in our mission of fighting for this amazing butterfly.  We managed to stay in touch and shared those happy incidents of seeing an egg, a larva, or a glorious (or even tattered!) adult.  As you will see below, monarch enthusiasts are found all over our state:  southeast, central, southwest and north areas all have reported sightings.  Those few sightings have generated hope for a better year in 2021.


Monarch Sightings


Idaho can happily boast monarch sightings in nearly all areas of the state this season. Numbers were not high, and no direct comparison can be made to the prior year with no solid data for that season.  It is only through word of mouth for the 2020 year that we can say several dozen monarchs of all stages were seen.  About half of that number comes from Dusty Perkins report of 40 to 45 eggs at Poison Creek in Owyhee County. 

Here are a few specifics about sightings around the state (except the extreme north, also known as the Panhandle.) The Treasure Valley area (southwestern Idaho) had numerous reports from several people in Boise, Nampa and Garden City.  Boise had reports from the southwest, northwest, and eastern side of the city.  The southeastern area of Oneida and Lemhi county had several reports thanks mainly to Rose Lehman. Our farthest north reports were in Salmon on the eastern side of the state, and Midvale closer to the western border.  The southern areas in the middle of the state such as Bruneau and Oakley also reported adult sightings, that compliment Dusty Perkins huge egg sighting in the county.

The general sense is that there is an increase this year, compared to the previous two years.  Some observers commented that they had not seen any monarchs in their area of Idaho since 2017.  Thus, the lower numbers were nevertheless encouraging. 

This brings me to a very important point:  Record your sightings so we can be more informed about ups and downs in monarch levels in our state going forward.  You can quickly type in your sightings on the Monarch and Milkweed Mapper, which is located on their website  It’s easy to sign up, and this will give us a basis for comparison from year to year for all sightings: citizen scientists as well as agency personnel and others.



Thank you everyone for your keen observations, and your commitment to monarch recovery in our state!  Thanks to the Western Monarch Advocates group, we now have people to contact in Western states, and a venue for easily learning about the overwintering monarch situation.  Keep up the good work!

Adult tagged in September in Southwest Boise - Anonymous

Restoration Activity


Sean Finn, biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Dusty Perkins, College of Western Idaho, led a restoration effort on the Boise River, all while having the dedicated crew of volunteers observe careful and well-respected virus-safe protocols.

The Idaho Bird Observatory Boise River Research Station benefitted from the following impressive activity under Sean’s guidance:

  • Planted about 4.5 acres with >2,000 native plants – most of which were grown from seed by K-12 students and teams of volunteer caretakers.

  • 80 volunteers spent 295 hours digging, planting, mulching, caging and watering the plants.

  • Pulled and whacked about 800 pounds of weeds.

The native plants included, but were not limited to, native Idaho milkweeds.  The team is hoping for a mild but wet winter before they start tending, weeding, and monitoring survival in Spring 2021.  This particular area is a known monarch area, so we are all hopeful about seeing them here again in the coming season.



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Western Monarch

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received a petition to list the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Their decision is due December 2020.

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WMA provides and updates the information on these pages as a vehicle to encourage people to seek and interact with each other. We make no representation other than that.  This is not a formal "clearing house" where all information is vetted or approved by another organization or government entity.

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