Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count

Email from Katie and Emma:



Hi everyone!

First of all many thanks to all of you, the volunteers and the regional coordinators, for participating in the count. Tomorrow, Saturday the 11th, is the first day of the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count!

We are excited about the amount of interest and involvement this year. Below we have outlined a few of the new resources, including recently developed Habitat Suitability Models and Overwintering Guidelines.

We also want to provide a quick recap of how to submit your data and few tips on how to have a successful count.

1) Western Monarch Butterfly and Milkweed Habitat Suitability Modeling Project. The USFWS, University of Nevada Reno, and the Xerces Society have undertaken a collaborative effort to better understand western monarch and milkweed habitat associations. Habitat suitability models were developed (attached for reference) for multiple milkweed species native to the western U.S., adult monarch butterflies, and monarch breeding in seven western states.

​ 2) Overwintering guidelines. The guidelines provide an overview of the biology and conservation of western monarchs; step-by-step guidance for developing a site-specific management plan, and overall guidance on topics. The document also includes a list of monarch-attractive native nectar plants suitable for coastal areas. These guidelines cover overwintering monarch habitat needs and how to develop site-specific management plans to benefit monarchs in both the short- and long-term. The guidelines are available at this link .

3) Three ways to submit data:

(1) Email or mail a scanned copy of your data sheets to wmtc@xerces.org. The data sheets are available under the Resources tab on westernmonarchcount.org .

(2) Enter your data online via online survey forms. These forms are available at the following links: Site Specific Data Sheet: Monarch Count and Site Specific Data Sheet: Habitat Assessment, and

(3) Enter your data on the Monarch SOS app for iPhone.

4) Tips for counting monarchs at overwintering site:

(1) Get prepared with permission and/or entry fees. Some of the overwintering sites require the landowner’s permission or require an entry fee. Each site has its own specific requirements, so familiarize yourself with your location and show up prepared. Please let us know if you need assistance with this step;

(2) Scout before you count. Scout your site before you count in the morning or evening to see where the monarchs are flying to make it easier to locate the clusters, otherwise they can be hard to find;

(3) Count in the early morning. Remember to count monarch clusters when they aren’t moving. Counts should be done in the early morning or on a cool, overcast day;

(4) Utilize multiple viewpoints. If possible, be sure to look at the clusters from different viewpoints, it’s easy to forget a cluster is a three dimensional assembly until you start moving around; and

(5) Have fun and count with a friend. Counting with someone and comparing your numbers and techniques leads to more accurate estimates.


Katie and Emma

Katie Hietala-Henschell

Conservation Biologist

Endangered Species Program

628 NE Broadway, Suite 200, Portland, OR, 97232 USA

Tel: (503) 232-6639 ext. 105

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