For more information on Monarchs in Utah contact Rachel Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org
MONARCH CURRENT NEWS:
We are cautiously optimistic in the greater Salt Lake City area after such early sightings and eggs found on mostly showy milkweed. We normally don’t see eggs until mid to late June, and the first sighting this year was May 15 where a female left more than 40 eggs in a yard in downtown Salt Lake City, followed closely behind by others along the Wasatch Front.
I have three large waystations in the area, and two of the three have had many eggs, with the first chrysalis found June 7 in my yard. My last adult sighting was a weathered looking female on June 5 as she left my side yard heading over the fence to the north. First sightings at the northern tip of the state were documented June 3. We are keeping our fingers crossed this is a good sign of a strong season ahead!
Utah has always enjoyed having monarch butterflies during the breeding season here (May-September). We have had two organic monarch “communities” who have been active for years promoting monarch conservation, and have organized Facebook Groups in an effort to share milkweed, best practices, and grow the conservation efforts:
Monarchs of the Wasatch Front (Ogden to Salt Lake City to Provo areas)
Monarchs of Bridgerland (northern tip of Utah)
In 2019, the State of Utah Division of Natural Resources (DNR) partnered with these local monarch enthusiasts to help develop a portion of the WAFWA Western Monarch Butterfly Conservation Plan from 2019 to 2069. In addition, we established a website where we could share information statewide on monarchs and milkweed.
In spring 2019, Utah’s DNR launched a project to identify where we have naturally occurring breeding habitat throughout the state -- in order to preserve, maintain and enhance that habitat. This is a huge unknown, as Utah has vast amounts of open space, much of which is BLM land. More than 80% of Utah’s population lives along a 120-mile stretch known as the Wasatch Front, and the rest of the state is much less densely populated.
Utah Dept. of Corrections growing milkweed seedlings shared for free
Rachel Taylor, Research Associate for Southwest Monarch Study, is working with the University of Utah’s STEMCAP program and the Utah Department of Corrections where the Decker Lake Youth Facility is growing native milkweed seedlings in trade for education on monarch conservation to fulfill part of their high school curriculum.
The young men at this facility also planted milkweed in the gardens at the corrections facility in an effort to attract monarchs (see photo). This program launched in spring 2019, and generated more than 2000 seedlings that were shared for free with Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County Parks and Open Space, as well as other organization involved in restoration projects along the Jordan River. Other seedlings were given away during workshops on monarch conservation.
Young inmates planting milkweed in the courtyard at the Decker Lake facility.
Rachel Taylor photo
Photo: Inside greenhouse at Decker Lake, Asclepias speciosa and incarnata
Working with Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County Parks and Open Space
A group of three monarch enthusiasts began sharing milkweed and planting in various parks throughout Salt Lake County in 2017, adding milkweed to natural riparian corridors where it could thrive, and we’ve had various levels of success.
The most successful project started in 2018 when Salt Lake City revamped an area of Fairmont Park, and allowed Rachel Taylor to establish a monarch waystation in an area near small streams that feed a small lake in the park. We successfully attracted monarchs the first season, even in year when numbers in the west dropped 85% from the prior year.
In 2019, city employees added hundreds of native milkweed seedlings (4-5 species) as well hundreds of native nectar sources that would be found along small streams, and has become the single largest monarch waystation in the state.
Fairmont Park (Salt Lake City)Monarch Waystation in progress. Rachel Taylor photo.
Various workshops and trainings are held throughout Utah to educate and engage people in monarch conservation
April 15, 2020 - Citizen Science Training for Habitat Survey Project
May 28, 2020 - Citizen Science Training, Hogle Zoo, Salt Lake City,
June 25, 2020 - Monarch Festival in Nibley, Utah (see photo)
July 9, 2020 - Monarchs & Milkweed Workshop – July 9, Park City, Utah
Photo: Annual Monarch Festival, Nibley, Utah Becky Yeager photo