Monarch Community Science Project

Observe monarch butterflies in your own outdoor space—and contribute to science!

Three young people stand in the middle of a tall grassy field and pull a tape measure across a section.

From June through early September, participate in our monarch monitoring program by recording information about your milkweed plants. Many monarchs start their journey right here in Chicago, and milkweed plants are the only places adult monarchs will lay their eggs.

Whether you have a potted plant on your balcony or a yard full of milkweed, the information you gather will contribute to museum research and help future monarch butterflies survive.

Start Monitoring

Once a monarch caterpillar hatches, it relies on milkweed leaves for food. In this community science project, help document monarch eggs and caterpillars.

Adult monarch butterflies eat the nectar of milkweed flowers. Count the number of milkweed stems and flowers in the patch you're monitoring.

How to monitor your milkweed

You can join in the project at any point during the summer. Once you choose a milkweed patch, observe the same area each week. It typically takes 30 minutes or less to record some information in the online survey, including measuring the size of your milkweed patch and counting any monarch eggs or caterpillars you see on milkweed leaves. The only tools you’ll need are a tape measure or yardstick, and a phone or computer to fill out the online survey every week.

Learn how to select a milkweed patch to monitor. 

To fill out a paper survey instead, to find out about in-person training sessions, or for other assistance, contact

Calling all Chicagoland community scientists

Anyone who lives in Chicago, its suburbs, and Northwest Indiana can contribute data. We encourage families, aspiring gardeners, and student summer programs to join the effort. A great activity for all ages, we suggest that kids below the ninth-grade level work with an adult. If you don’t have space to grow plants, consider monitoring at your local park, school, or place of worship (once you check with the land manager).

We rely on community scientists (that’s you!) of all experience levels, and the data you gather will support important research.