On April 30, 2021, Mayor Kate Gallego signed the National Wildlife Federation's Mayor's Monarch Pledge. This pledge commits the city to take action to support the monarch butterfly population. View the pledge
Phoenix plays host to the migrating monarch butterfly each year, generally welcoming them in September and waving a fond farewell around May as they make their way to cooler climes.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego has issued a Proclamation declaring September as “Planting for Monarchs Month”. September is the perfect time to start thinking about what native plants you could place on your patio, balcony, or plant in your yard to provide essential habitat resources for this key pollinator species. View the Proclamation. / Lea la Proclamación.
The monarch's multi-generation, 3,000-mile-long migration and dramatic overwintering habits have long captured our collective imagination. But this key pollinator is struggling. The western population of the monarch butterfly has declined 99 percent from 1.2 million observed overwintering in 1997 down to less than 2,000 in 2020. This decline is primarily thought to be the result of habitat loss, climate change, and pesticide use.
What do Migrating Monarchs Need?
Photograph by Kim Pegram, Desert Botanical Garden
Native milkweed and native nectar plants are essential for monarch migration and survival. Milkweed is critical to the life cycle of the monarch – it's where they lay eggs and it's the sole food source of the caterpillar. Nectar-producing plants provide food for the butterfly, giving it the energy and fuel it needs to survive, reproduce, and migrate.
Native plants are of essential value and importance to the history, landscape, biodiversity, and environment of our unique Sonoran Desert ecosystem in Phoenix. The use of native plants for monarch habitat is strongly encouraged. Plus, we save on water use and support our native biodiversity by avoiding high water budget plants in favor of those native to the Phoenix region.
What Can I Do?
Plant and Protect!
Consider planting native milkweed and native nectar plants to provide habitat for monarchs and other pollinators and avoid using pesticides/herbicides on or near your monarch habitat. Click here for a draft list of milkweed and nectar plants native to the Sonoran Desert region (this list is still in development; updated versions will be uploaded periodically).
From one or two potted milkweeds on a balcony to landscaping an entire yard or business park and anything in between, it all makes a difference.
Where practicable in the space available, strive for a mix of native milkweed and native nectar plants that produce flowers between September and May.
Working together as a community, we can create a web of essential habitat resources throughout Phoenix for this important species.
Check out the other resource links below to learn more about the monarch and tips for creating habitat.
Participate in monarch butterfly mapping citizen science
Participate in milkweed mapping citizen science
List of AZ nurseries that supply milkweed
Southwest Monarch Study
Desert Botanical Garden - Monarch ButterFlies and Milkweeds
Pollinator Conservation Resources: Southwest Region
AZ Monarch Collaborative Native Plant Sources
Xerces Society Managing for Monarchs in the west
National Wildlife Federation
Monarch Joint Venture
Ideas or suggestions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with “monarch" in the subject line
Photograph by William Vann