My local Open Space Authority sent out a plea for help mapping individual milkweeds on their properties and through the Western US. The letter is saying the Monarch butterfly decline is now so dire that protecting each individual milkweed plant is important.
If it’s feasible for you, please also consider adding your milkweed observations to the link listed in this quoted section from the OSA newsletter:
Protecting butterfly habitat is one of the most important ways to help the species, and is now a top priority for our Natural Resource team. “The first step here is identifying and mapping as many milkweed plants as possible throughout our preserves,” says David Mauk, the Authority’s Natural Resource Technician. Milkweed, the only food source for Monarch caterpillars, is a necessary feature in viable Monarch habitat. Milkweed plants will be mapped, cataloged, and categorized by environmental conditions, like the amount of visitor usage exposure or vulnerability to cattle and deer grazing. From there, the plants can then be protected as needed.
The largest need among researchers right now is locating as many milkweed plants as possible. This is the data the Authority will be collecting, and the data that you, a member of the public, can collect as well. Citizen Science platforms like the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper make identifying these plants and sending information very simple. Even your single report of just one plant can make a difference. “The more there are people like me doing on-the-ground data collection, the more data available there is for researchers," Mauk urges. And the more milkweed plants protected, the more caterpillars kept alive.