Citizen Science - Monarchs | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

This Monarch butterfly is about to unfurl its mouthparts and take a sip of nectar. Migrating Monarchs can fly up to 100 miles a day, using nectar as their only fuel!
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From the Ground Up:
Building a Backyard for the City

Citizen Science Manager Lila Higgins is tracking the latest and greatest developments in the Museum’s new outdoor habitat, the Nature Gardens!
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NHM is studying our local urban environment to better understand the biodiversity that lives in the greater Los Angeles area. Part of this study includes knowing where local populations of Monarch butterflies and milkweed plants are found.

You can participate in our study by sending us photos of Monarch butterflies and milkweed plants that you have seen in the L.A. area:

1. E-mail


2. Join our Monarchs and Milkweed of Los Angeles project on iNaturalist.

Help Monarchs: Create a Monarch Waystation

Much of the monarch's natural habitat no longer exists due to urban development and widespread use of herbicides. You can help monarch butterflies and caterpillars by planting a few plants in an existing garden, schoolyard, or parking lot, or you can grow a new garden from scratch. Below is a list of monarch-friendly plants:

Host Plants
Host plants are the food sources for caterpillars. Some species of butterflies and moths are very specific and can only eat one type of plant. For example, the monarch butterfly can only eat milkweed leaves. By planting at least ten milkweeds, you'll provide enough food for baby monarchs.

  • Milkweeds, Asclepias species

Nectar Plants

As the name implies, these plants provide nectar that adult butterflies feed upon. Many flowering plants offer a decent supply of nectar, but those listed below are best suited to our area. By planting at least four nectaring plants, you'll provide fuel for adult Monarchs to lay more eggs, mate, and flutter all through your garden!

  • milkweeds, Asclepias species (milkweed is both a host and nectaring plant)!
  • yarrow, Achillea millefolium
  • lilac verbena, Verbena lilacina
  • butterfly bush, Buddleia species
  • coast aster, Aster chilensis


For full details on creating a monarch way station visit the Monarch Watch website.

Free milkweed seed and/or nectar plant seeds may be requested from the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History.

Monarch Conservation

Eastern monarch populations face a variety of threats during their migration from Canada and the U.S. to overwinter in Mexico, including a lack of milkweed plants. Did you know that there is a separate population of monarchs here on the West Coast? This western population overwinters in Southern California, and while it seems to be under less stress than the Eastern population, there has not been as much research done on the Western population.

Follow these links to learn about Monarchs: 
Make Way for Monarchs: 
Monarch Watch: 
Monarch Larva Monitoring Project:
Monarch Joint Venture: Tropical Milkweed and Monarch Parasites

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