Monarch Community Science Project

Get outside this summer and appreciate nature—all while contributing 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, we enjoy seeing the familiar monarch butterfly across Chicago. Many monarchs start their journey south right here in the city. But they need their host plant, milkweed, in order to survive and continue on their epic migration.

We’re asking residents across the Chicagoland area to join us in recording information about milkweed plants in their yards and communities. Whether you have a potted plant on your balcony or a yard full of milkweed, the information you gather will help future monarch butterflies survive.

Get Involved

Seeing green across Chicago

In 2019, participants from across Chicago monitored 130 milkweed patches throughout the summer—documenting 5,109 monarch butterfly eggs! 

Nature in your neighborhood

By monitoring milkweed, we can find out how well monarch caterpillars survive on our urban milkweed. These plants (which aren’t actually weeds!) produce a variety of brightly colored flowers. They don’t need a ton of space to flourish, making them ideal for filling gaps in your garden and acting as monarch waystations. Cities like Chicago have a big role to play in helping monarchs bounce back from shrinking numbers.

Who can participate

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. If you don’t have space to grow plants, check with your local park, school, or place of worship to see if they’ll allow monitoring.

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