Illinois Monarch Project

Providing protection for Monarch butterflies through the preservation and restoration of their migratory habitat is in all of our best interest. Therefore, we are happy to be a part of the Illinois Monarch Project’s Technical Steering Committee and chair the Community Engagement Committee to support efforts to protect, preserve, and restore Monarch butterfly habitat during their yearly migration through the state. Illinois chose the Monarch as its state insect in 1975 and today it has become a symbol of pollinator conservation through its migratory range. Declines in milkweed and nectar resources due to development, weed ordinances, and herbicide use throughout its migratory range have contributed to declines in the Monarch population.

THe ILlinois Monarch Project is working to: 

• Establish a long-term action plan to enhance monarch butterfly reproduction and survival in Illinois.
• Engage all hands on deck by collaborating with the agriculture, urban, rights-of-way, and natural land sectors.
• Promote and support voluntary conservation action by private landowners.
• Support regional, national and international monarch butterfly conservation strategies.

More Information

What is the Illinois Monarch Project? 

The Illinois Monarch Project (IMP) is a group of citizens, their organizations, and government bodies working together through collaborative and coordinated efforts to ensure the survival of Monarchs and their successful migration through Illinois.

The Illinois Monarch Project’s Mission

Helping monarch butterflies thrive throughout Illinois by collaborating on conservation activities and encouraging engagement by public and private landowners across diverse urban and rural landscapes.

Why is it important to protect Monarchs and other pollinators?

Protecting pollinators safeguards our food security and our heritage. The Monarch butterfly is more than just an insect; it is a significant symbol and part of many cultures’ heritage. These butterflies were called “daughters of the sun” by the Mazahua tribe, referring to the fact that their awakening meant the arrival of the spring sun. Illinois chose the Monarch as its state insect in 1975 and currently it is becoming a symbol of pollinator conservation throughout its migratory range. While butterflies are important pollinators of wildflowers, the majority of fruits and vegetables we consume depend on pollinators such as honeybees and bumblebees. When we help Monarchs, we also help these important pollinators of our food.

How can I get involved?

Many Illinoisans are helping pollinators by planting native florae including milkweed. Milkweed is the only host plant Monarch mothers will lay their eggs on because it’s the only plant Monarch caterpillars will eat. These host plants also provide nectar for other hungry pollinators. People are also using pollinator-friendly gardening and lawn maintenance techniques as a way to protect pollinators from harmful chemicals. Illinoisans are not alone; every state within the Monarchs migratory path is contributing with a statewide plan and actions of their own.

Visit and follow Illinois Monarch Project on Facebook for more information about how you or your organization can help support Monarchs and other local pollinators. 

What happened to milkweed?

The decline in milkweed due to development, weed ordinances, and herbicide use throughout the Monarch's migratory range has contributed to the their population decline. Some of these factors have also had an adverse effect on other pollinators as well.

Who can I contact for more information?

Iris Caldwell, P.E.
Energy Resource Center
University of Illinois at Chicago
Office: (312) 355-1483

André Copeland, CIGI, CIP, MT
Interpretive Programs Manager
Brookfield Zoo Chicago
Office: (708) 688-8845