Monarch Citizen Science Training

On Saturday, May 6, 2017, the Atlanta Botanical Garden Pollinator Garden Coordinator, with funding from US-FWS Biologist Deborah Harris, organized all pollinator gardens to participate in a Monarch Citizen Science Training. The workshop was held at the Urban Conservation Training Institute, part of the Greening Youth Foundation, thanks to Site Manager Whitney C. Jaye who hosted this event.

Susan Meyers is a Conservation Specialist and the Monarchs Across Georgia Pollinator Habitat Restoration Grant Administrator. Susan is also a teacher of Monarch Citizen Science programs. We learned Danaus plexippus, the monarch butterfly, has been going through an all time low in their populations in Mexico, USA, and Canada. Scientific research points out several factors for this decline, like loss of habitat in Mexico and Canada, loss of native milkweed in the USA, pesticide poisoning, and diseases.

Grove Park Community Garden, Welch Street Community Garden, Four Corners Community Garden, Linsday Street Park, Vine City Park and Blue Heron Community Garden members participated in this training. They received Monarch Watch Waystations certificates thanks to our project with Park Pride in installing pollinator gardens in five of those community parks. Lindsay Street Park and Vine City Park have pollinator gardens that were established in 2015-2016, and ABG continues to work with them.

Here are some of the Citizen Science projects that were discussed and you can choose one or all to participate!

The Monarch Joint Venture of the University of Minnesota Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, “is a partnership of federal, state agencies and non-governmental organizations and academic programs that are working together to protect the monarch migration across the lower 48 United States” link to the site. They have several informational sheets like Milkweed Infomation Sheet, Monarch Conservation: How to get involved, Gardening for Monarchs, MJV fact sheet and much more that you can download here Resources.

Journey North is a global study of wildlife migration and seasonal change, and one of their many species that citizen scientists help keep track of are monarchs.  You can visit the Monarch Butterfly track, and report sightings. If you would like to know more about other species they are keeping track of you can go here:  Track Spring’s Journey North.

Monarch Watch is a program based at the Univesity of Kansas “that engages citizens scientist in large-scale research programs”.  One of their programs is the Migration and tagging data collection .  The goal of this program is to estimate the size of the fall migratory population, mortality during migration and size of the overwintering population.

Susan Meyers explaining how to tag a Monarch butterfly


Whitney C.Jaye UCTI Site manager and Chris, Grove Community Garden member tagging another monarch

Project Monarch Health- Monarch parasites OE, Ophryocystis elektroscirrha, is a parasite, and single cell organism that infects monarch and queen butterflies. It was first discovered in Florida in the 1960s, and no other hosts have been identified.  It has been found in all monarch populations around the world.

Jalani Traxler, Welch Street Park garden member, grabbing a butterfly to collect a sample for OE


Gently collecting superficial sample of abdomen to look for OE

With the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, participants observe the Monarch larva’s body and antenna length to determine its larva stage. The Monarch experiences five stages in between being an egg and an adult. This can be done by anyone that registers as a monitor. Data can be submitted to

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After the training ended we planted a short list of plants that are good nectar and nesting sources for Monarchs at the Urban Conservation Training Institute:

Nectar and Nest Sources plants for Monarch Butterfly
2 Passiflora incarnata Passionvine
2 Echinacea tennessensis Tennessee coneflower
3 Agastache foeniculum Anise hyssop
3 Glandularia canadensis Verbena
4 Pycnanthemum pilosum American mountain mint
2 Symphyotrichum novae angliae New England Aster
3 Eutrochium fistulosum Joe-pye weed
3 Coreopsis lanceolata Tickseed
1 Monarda fistulosa Beebalm
2 Asclepias tuberosa Milkweed

This Citizen Science training was a complete success, so much so that we will be planning to have one at the Atlanta Botanical Garden – stay tuned.