Wild Monarch Butterfly Rescue

As a child, I would visit the Monarch over-wintering groves in Southern California and see thousands of butterflies clustering overhead on the Eucalyptus trees, flying through the air, and carpeting the ground like autumn leaves. Visiting the same site last year, I spotted no more than three individuals. 

Monarch butterflies are our nation's most iconic and beloved butterfly species. Yet, the population of these beautiful insects have fallen 99% over the last 20 years, according to the Xerces Society . In the 1990s, hundreds of millions of Monarch Butterflies migrated from Canada to Mexico. Last year, the wild Monarch count dropped below 25,000 individuals. Many factors have contributed to their decline, including loss of habitat to expanding farmlands and urban growth, the lack of native milkweed plants, the use of pesticides, climate change, and the parasite OE. 

Monarchs need our help. If we are to share these beautiful and mysterious creatures with future generations, we have to act before it's too late.

About Me
My experience with butterflies is extensive. In my work managing a live butterfly exhibit at a natural history museum, I've raised over 7,800 butterflies of various species to adulthood and maintained the butterfly garden. I am applying that experience to helping the wild Monarchs by sheltering eggs from predators, providing native milkweed for rearing caterpillars, testing adults for the parasitic disease OE before releasing them back into the wild, and sharing the results of my data with Project Monarch Health.

About the Project
Monarch caterpillars eat a LOT, and milkweeds are the only species of plants that the Monarch caterpillars (which become butterflies) are able to eat. 

Large quantities of native milkweed do not come cheap. For example, a 5 gallon Narrow-Leaf Milkweed plant can cost $25 and feeds 3 large caterpillars for 3 days. It takes caterpillars about 14 days from hatching to become a chrysalis, and when they are not sleeping, they are eating!

Since the end of April, I have counted over 200 Monarch caterpillars in my garden, with more Monarchs laying eggs every few days. I need easily more than 70 plants to feed my current generation of butterflies. My goal is to successfully rear as many healthy butterflies as possible. 

Important Note: I do not buy Monarchs from butterfly farms to release into the wild, nor I do not breed or sell Monarchs. The butterflies that visit my garden are all wild, and I rear the eggs they lay outdoors. Once grown from caterpillar to chrysalis, the adults fly away as soon as they emerge.

Our Needs
With the help of our community, I will be able to:
-Buy the necessary supplies to protect the caterpillars to adulthood (this includes netting to keep away predators, and data collection tools).
-Buy native milkweeds for Monarchs to lay on, and caterpillars to eat.
-Purchase native flowering plants for adult Monarch butterflies to feed on.

Any extra funds will be allocated to:
-Providing educational materials to children in our community to learn about the Monarch butterfly life cycle and migration.
-Supporting the planting of native pollinator plants in the community.
-Converting my garden into a native pollinator habitat. 

I have the experience, and the passion, but I need your help to do my part in saving the wild Monarch butterflies. Every contribution can help save the next generation of Monarchs! 

Monarchs grow from tiny eggs to caterpillars, pupate in a chrysalis, and finally become butterflies! How many caterpillars can you find in this picture?

Acrobatic caterpillars!

Shhhh... she's sleeping! (Monarch chrysalis) 

Oh, hi. I didn't see you there. (5th instar caterpillar)

Freshly laid Monarch butterfly egg on Narrow-Leaf milkweed!

Ain't she a beaut?

Want to help the Monarchs in your own backyard?
Learn what type of native Milkweed is right for your garden with Project Milkweed !

Donations (43)

  • Kerry Reynard
    • $25 
    • 3 yrs
  • Anonymous
    • $18 
    • 3 yrs
  • Anonymous
    • $118 
    • 3 yrs
  • Shelly Brown
    • $50 
    • 3 yrs
  • johanna Yadegar
    • $150 
    • 3 yrs


Deborah Thompson
Los Angeles, CA

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