Monarch Migration 2018

September 17, 2018

We are hearing from many people about groups of monarch butterflies roosting in locations statewide! The migration of the eastern monarch population spans 3,000 miles from Canada to Mexico. Generally, these migrating monarchs appear in Iowa during September, with the monarch abundance peaking between September 8 and September 21. As they migrate, they feed on nectar and stop to rest. Especially in the evenings, monarchs will group together on trees, where they form “roosts” to rest for the night. Hundreds or even thousands of monarchs can be found in these roosting locations. This phenomenon has been seen less frequently in Iowa in recent years, possibly due to the overall decline in the monarch population. This month, however, roosts are being reported across the state and we capture some photos in central Iowa!

To celebrate the monarch migration, we joined with Plant.Grow.Fly. partners at Blank Park Zoo for the annual Monarch Festival. Adults and children alike stopped by to learn about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly, the variety of milkweed species native to Iowa, and how Iowa State is working with stakeholders to enhance conservation efforts statewide.

Will the migration appear in your location next year? What can you do to help?

  • Plant nectar plants -- in addition to milkweed -- making sure to include species such as aster or goldenrod that bloom in September and October to provide nectar during the monarch's migration.

  • Report your sightings of monarch roosts to Journey North to help track migration timing and routes.

  • Share your photos and stories with our team on Facebook or Twitter, #iowamonarchs #MonarchTag

photo of monarch butterflies roosting  photo of monarch butterflies roosting  photo of family learning about the monarch butterfly life stages  photo of preschooler holding monarch caterpillar  photo of Monarch Festival attendees learning about the monarch life cycle  2018 Monarch Festival at Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines