The Marvelous Monarch
Our big showy black and orange butterfly with the magnificent metamorphosis life cycle and monumental migration to Mexico is designated as a Species of Special Concern. This means scientists have noticed that the monarch population is not endangered or threatened, but they are facing a number of environmental challenges. Changes to habitat are one of the most significant threats currently facing this species. You can help!
1) Plant milkweed
Monarch caterpillars are picky eaters and only eat milkweed. A variety of different milkweed species grow in Ontario. Learn to recognize and protect our milkweed. Many local native plant nurseries have milkweed in stock. For schools or groups or areas larger than 2 acres, you can apply for free milkweed plants.
All milkweed plants contain a milky-white sap that is poisonous to most animals. Amazingly the monarch caterpillar uses this to its advantage and as it eats milkweed, becomes poisonous itself! The bright colours of the monarch caterpillar and butterfly warn predators that they will be a nasty meal.
2) Become a Citizen Scientist
Citizen science is information that anyone can collect and submit to help scientist learn important information. Many organizations have opportunities for people to submit citizen science information about monarchs.
Mission Monarch: Any time during the summer, search for and report monarchs at any life stage
MilkweedWatch: Submit milkweed locations
Raising monarch caterpillars
Monarchs are listed as a Specially Protected Invertebrate species under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. Although you are permitted to keep and release a single individual monarch for the purpose of personal education, if you would like to keep more than one in captivity, consider attending a Monarch Teacher Network Workshop. This workshop includes hands-on learning and the permitting required from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
Collecting and raising monarch caterpillars gives you an up-close look at their amazing life cycle. Central Lake Ontario Conservation staff have received extensive training and have the permits in place to share the Marvelous Monarchs Display at your local library.