Monarch Butterfly

Near Threatened Species

Characteristics of the Monarch Butterfly

  • The monarch butterfly has a distinct orange, black, and white wings.
  • These color send warnings out to predators that the monarch is foul tasting and poisonous.
  • Weigh less than half a gram.
  • Wingspan is 4 inches.

Offspring of Diet

  • In the larval stage monarch caterpillars feed almost exclusively on milkweed.
  • As adults, they get their nutrients from the nectar of flowers.
  • The milkweed they feed on as a caterpillar is actually a poisonous toxin and is stored in their bodies.
  • That is why they taste so bad to predators.

Human impacts

  • The monarchs spend their winters in the mountains of Mexico but in 25 years of the MMP counting, the butterflies had one of their worst years in Cape May last year.
  • the biggest reason for the decline is destruction of natural habitats in North America.
  • Herbicides used in agriculture that, while great for corn and other crops, have killed off untold acreage of milkweed.
  • Estimated a 90% decline in the monarch's population.
  • to help preserve the monarchs New Jersey lawmakers are considering bills to encourage the growth of new habitats.


  • Eat Organic: Today, 94 percent of the soy and 73 percent of the corn and cotton grown in the United States is genetically engineered to withstand heavy sprayings of herbicides, mainly glyphosate. This resulted into 81 % decrease of the monarch's population.
  • Many migrating monarchs rely on overwintering grounds in Mexico, but illegal logging operations are wiping out critical butterfly habitat.the Mexican government has set aside 217 square miles for the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. To avoid purchasing wood illegally harvested from butterfly habitat, look for the Forest Stewardship Certified seal. This means the lumber was taken in an ecologically responsible way

Conservation Projects

  • The Xerces Society For Invertebrate Conservation: Xerces is working to restore monarch breeding habitats. Their partnership with USDA NRCS, has resulted in planting more than 120,000 acres of habitat for monarchs and other pollinators.
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Internation Affairs: The Wildlife Without Borders program was designed to develop the capacity of the local communities to sustainably manage their natural resources, and provide economic alternatives.