MonarchHealth is a project in which volunteers sample wild monarch butterflies to help track the spread of a protozoan parasite across North America.

Our mission is to achieve a broader understanding of host-parasite interactions in monarch butterflies and to enhance awareness of monarch biology and conservation through the coupling of citizens and scientists.

News - Winter 2015

  • Citizen scientists submitted over 3,500 samples in 2014. This is double what we receive in an average year! Our team is still processing these samples. If you are waiting on results, we thank you for your patience. A data summary for 2014 will be available in May.
  • In January, we published Monarch Health data in an internationally recognized scientific journal. Volunteers helped to reveal that monarchs in the southern U.S. are healthiest when milkweed grows seasonally and not year-round. Gardeners in southern, coastal areas can reduce monarch disease and prevent monarchs from breeding during the winter by: (1) cutting back tropical milkweed during Nov.-Feb., and (2) replacing exotic milkweeds with native milkweeds as they become available for purchase. More information is available at our Q&A. Thanks to this citizen science effort, we understand more about the best milkweed habitats for monarchs.

Interested in Participating?

  • Are you interested in sampling monarchs in your area for a protozoan parasite? Please e-mail us at and we will send you a free research kit
  • Testing monarchs for the protozoan parasite OE does not harm monarchs. Sampling involves capturing or raising adult monarchs and pressing clear tape against the butterfly's abdomen to collect parasite spores.
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