Montana

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The information in this state update was provided by Maggie Hirschauer, mhirscha@gmail.com   Please contact her for additional information.

INTRODUCTION

Montana is a bit of an outlier among the western monarch states, sitting at the far northern tier of North American monarch range and split by the Continental Divide into distinct western and eastern regions. Yet Montana supports pockets of high-quality milkweed habitats and supports breeding populations of monarchs on both sides of the Divide.

BMP_photo credit Maggie Hirschauer.jpg

BMP Photo credit Maggie Hirschauer

Montana’s geography and complex topography raise intriguing questions about the source of its monarch breeding population. Western breeding grounds are roughly defined as being west of the Rocky Mountain Divide, while the eastern monarch population’s breeding grounds generally lie in the prairies and badlands to the east.

 

But just how permeable are these boundaries and how does Montana’s topographic relief influence western and eastern monarch movements and seasonal distributions? And how do Montana’s extensive river systems and rich river valleys of milkweed and nectar plants influence migratory connectivity between the western and eastern populations?

 

There is much to learn about the relative importance of Montana to the western monarch population, but it is fair to say the contribution, though likely modest, only adds to the species’ viability and resiliency across its western range.

General Information, MT Resources

 

Planting (and protecting) milkweed and other native nectar sources is one of the best ways to help native pollinators. Both companies below refuse to use insecticides or harmful chemicals in their efforts.

BMP Stevensville roadside milkweed_photo

BMP Stevensville roadside milkweed | photo credit Maggie Hirschauer

MPG Ranch, Missoula, MT: https://www.mpgranch.com

The Bitterroot Monarch Project (2019-2021) documented milkweed and monarch presence in the northern Bitterroot Valley every summer, even as the western population declined. Annual research updates and summaries of monarch sightings can be found at the MPG Ranch website above.

 

Montana Audubon Center, Billings MT: https://mtaudubon.org/center/

The main facility is landscaped with native plants including showy milkweed. Volunteers monitor this milkweed annually for migrating monarchs.

 

Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium: https://www.missoulabutterflyhouse.org

Local insect (and butterfly) experts run this non-profit and coordinate amazing education campaigns and outreach efforts. They have a new educational facility and butterfly house in construction.

 

Monarch Garden Inn, Emigrant MT: http://www.akwildlife.com

Enthusiastic naturalists host a B&B alongside a milkweed waystation and monarch rearing, tagging, and release operations.

 

Contact Information

Maggie Hirschauer

Bitterroot Monarch Project Coordinator

mhirscha@gmail.com

BMP Adult Feeds_photo credit Jordan Hoff

BMP Adult feeds | photo credit Jordan Hoffmaster

MONARCH NEWS IN MONTANA

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Western Monarch

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