Monarch Watch

Monarch Watch is a nonprofit education, conservation, and research program based at the University of Kansas that focuses on the monarch butterfly, its habitat, and the  fall migration. Each fall Monarch Watch coordinates a tagging program for the monarch population east of the Rocky Mountains. Volunteers apply coded tags to the underside of a hind wing of wild monarchs. Data sheets are returned to Monarch Watch. Tagged monarchs recovered in Canada, United States and Mexico are associated with the tagging records enabling Monarch Watch to determine when, where and by whom a monarch was tagged. This program, started in 1992, has tagged over 2 million monarchs and there have been over 19,000 recoveries in Mexico. Monarch Watch monitors the monarch through the entire year and frequently posts updates on the status of the population to the Monarch Watch Blog and a large email list. In recognition that habitats for monarchs were declining rapidly, Monarch Watch initiated the Monarch Waystation program in 2005. These plots, containing milkweeds and nectar plants, now number more than 31,000 registered sites. Through the Milkweed Market, the Free Milkweeds for Schools and Non-profits and the Free Milkweeds for Restoration programs, Monarch Watch has distributed more than a million regionally appropriate milkweed plugs since 2010.


Coordinator: Taylor, Chip
Program Date(s): 1992
Institution Type: Academic Institution
Species Focus: Monarchs
Contact E-mail:


Protocol Type: Capture, Tagging
Data Type(s): Presence only, Presence/absence
Data Availability: Contact Monarch Watch. The original tagging data from the Insect Migration Association can be found on their website at
Survey Focus: Adults
Protocol Notes: Volunteers capture or rear monarchs, tag them and recaptured tags are reported back to Monarch Watch.

Research Spotlight

Taylor OR Jr, Pleasants JM, Grundel R, Pecoraro SD, Lovett JP and Ryan A (2020) Evaluating the Migration Mortality Hypothesis Using Monarch Tagging Data. Front. Ecol. Evol. 8:264. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2020.00264

Taylor OR Jr, Lovett JP, Gibo DL, Weiser EL, Thogmartin WE, Semmens DJ, Diffendorfer JE, Pleasants JM, Pecoraro SD and Grundel R (2019) Is the Timing, Pace, and Success of the Monarch Migration Associated With Sun Angle? Front. Ecol. Evol. 7:442. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00442