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Monarch Butterfly Tracking

Monarch Butterfly Tracking Image
Raised toward our $3,000 Goal
35 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on August 20, at 09:00 AM CDT
Project Owners

Monarch Butterfly Tracking

What will my donation be used for?

Your donation will be used to support monarch tracking efforts in the field using radio telemetry. Our project requires supplies such as transmitters and receivers -- and lots of help from field technicians. Our research expenses really add up when one transmitter costs $200. In 2017, we purchased 10 transmitters and we were able to monitor 85 butterflies. Imagine what we could accomplish with more transmitters! #MonarchTag

Why donate to monarch tracking?

We are tracking monarch movement with radio telemetry farther than we can see the butterflies with our eyes. The data we collect will provide insight regarding how far away a monarch can recognize milkweed and nectar plants. We can also learn about their behaviors on habitat edges where two different habitats, like a corn field and a prairie, may overlap. All of this information will be used to help researchers provide science-based recommendations for planting monarch habitat in the Midwestern landscape.

What is radio telemetry?

Radio telemetry is a technique used to track animal movement and behavior. A transmitter, or tag, is attached to the animal or insect for tracking. This tag emits a specific radio frequency that can be received by an antenna attached to a radio receiver. As the receiver detects where the insect is located, the signal gets louder in the direction of the transmitter. #MonarchTag

How are we tracking monarchs?

We are tracking monarchs using small radio telemetry transmitters and specialized receivers. Each transmitter is the size of a sunflower seed. Due to their tiny size, the transmitters are expensive and sometimes a butterfly escapes with a one still attached to its body.

Why do we need to track monarchs?

The monarch butterfly population east of the Rocky Mountains has declined over the past 20 years. Although we know that monarchs depend on milkweed and nectar plants as food sources, we need more information about where to put these resources in the landscape to best help monarchs. Tracking their movements through different kinds of habitat (roadsides, fields, prairies, etc.) gives us a glimpse into how these butterflies make choices about where to fly next. Help us learn more about how a monarch butterfly detects milkweeds and nectar plants in a complicated landscape! #MonarchTag

More information

Our project is part of a collaborative effort in Iowa to address conservation efforts for the monarch butterfly. Visit to learn more!

To discuss how you can make a lasting impact in support of our efforts to conserve the monarch butterfly, please contact Bobbi Jo Smith with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences development team by phone (515-294-1118) or email ( #MonarchTag

Choose a giving level



Help our project hatch with your donation! During its life, a monarch spends 3-5 days in its egg stage before hatching.



After hatching from its egg, a monarch caterpillar spends 10-14 days eating milkweed & growing -- quickly! Tell your friends about our project & help us grow as fast as a caterpillar.



Offer your support to this regal insect as it forms its signature green & gold chrysalis. Share YOUR green to support groundbreaking research!



Spread your wings and take in the view! Your donation will help us purchase field supplies for 100+ days of summer research.



Each tiny transmitter can be used multiple times in the field. A donation at this level will purchase 1 new transmitter or 2 refurbished transmitters -- your generosity will multiply!



We're experts with a butterfly net and your support will yield "net" benefits. Literally!

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