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

Please contact her for additional information about the update.


Early spring is a quiet time in Idaho with respect to Monarch butterflies. We do not have
an over-wintering population of Monarchs, as does California and Arizona. We also do
not have a “resident” population of Monarchs, that are different from the “migratory”
population that moves on to neighboring states such as Idaho, Oregon, Washington,
Utah and Montana. Resident Monarchs cycle through their entire lifespans in one
location without traveling, as we see in migratory populations.


Since there are no active butterflies to see and study this time of year, perhaps it is a
good time to reflect on how we can move forward following a very discouragingly low
count year (2020), and plan on how to help.


Dr. David James, Professor of Entomology at Washington State University, has a very
hopeful message for Idaho with respect to Monarchs. “I believe Idaho has the best
chance of seeing populations and these will occur courtesy of the westward-flying
emigrants from Mexico.” Dr. James, as you may know, has studied Monarch inter-state
migrations in the west for about a decade, and has the expertise to make predictions
about potential trends.


Biologists in state and federal government management agencies in Idaho have
contributed to this section since, again, April and May have little Monarch activity in our
state. The theme of how you can help is reiterated here, with suggestions on
preparation for the upcoming, active summer months.

Rose Lehman, US Forest Service botanist at the Caribou-Targee National Forest and
Curlew National Grassland in Idaho Fall has this suggestion: “I would suggest that
people know what to report and how to report it. For example, take a photo of the
milkweed plant, monarch butterfly, chrysalis caterpillar or egg, and note the number,
date, and location. In other words, sign in and learn the Milkweed Monarch Mapper!
This data is used and appreciated by agencies such as the Forest Service and others.”


Here is the link to the website:

Here are three examples of photos that serve to document the sightings you might report:

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Early spring small milkweed plant.

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Photo of Monarch with wings worn and tattered, which is a typical result of long migration.

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Photo of freshly hatched Monarch on butterfly bush.

David Dressel, Idaho Fish and Game biologist in the Southeast Region has this
suggestion to offer: “Bringing awareness to issues concerning wildlife, especially
insects, can be challenging. However, I believe the word is out: Monarchs need help!
This awareness has led to the development of many exciting new projects in Idaho for
those looking to help through volunteering or donations. The next few years will
undoubtedly be busy with opportunities.”

Anyone interested in trying to help can contact their local management agency, be it
city, county, state, or federal and participate in organized activities. Opportunities such
as planting or surveying milkweed, observing monarch life stages are abundant
throughout Idaho. Let’s be prepared if Idaho does see an increase in Monarch sightings
this year. And let’s plant more milkweed. As David said above:



At Boise State University, a Fall class through the Osher Institute of Lifelong Learning
will be presented by Dr. David James, monarch researcher at Washington State
University. Dr. James, who is well-known for his monarch migration studies, will be
presenting this class via an online Zoom platform. Thus, the class can be accessed by
residents of any state. There is one catch: Osher Institute classes are limited to those
age 55 and over.


Here is a link to their website:

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Western Monarch

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