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Western Monarch Mystery 


Are you the key to solving the mystery of western migratory monarch recovery? Learn how you can help scientists discover what these beautiful butterflies need to rebuild their population.


Western monarch butterfly counts have hit another record low (source). The team of scientists heading up the Western Monarch Mystery Challenge Project is looking for your help to unravel the mystery behind rebuilding the western migratory monarch population. If you’ve seen a monarch, of any life stage (egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly), in the western United States then you are already on your way to becoming a community scientists and solving the mystery.

The Western Monarch Mystery Challenge is a community science campaign running February 14th through April 22nd 2021, formed by researchers from Washington State University, Tufts University, UC Santa Cruz, and the Xerces Society to learn more about monarchs in order to inform urgent conservation efforts. And the team is giving out a $50 REI gift card to one lucky participant per week!


The team of scientists behind the Western Monarch Mystery Challenge need your help to fill crucial gaps in their knowledge about monarch behavior and biology.

Learn more about the western migratory monarch, their road to recovery, the scientists leading the research, and how you can join the project as a community scientist by downloading the Education Packets below.

Education Packets


Challenge Accepted

To participate in the Western Monarch Mystery Challenge send the team photos of monarchs you see within the Challenge area.



Helping the scientists on the Western Monarch Mystery Challenge is fun and easy. Follow these simple 3 steps to join the team and help discover what western migratory monarchs need to rebuild their population.

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Look for Monarchs

While out and about in the area covered by the Western Monarch Mystery Challenge (see map above) look for monarch butterflies. 

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See a monarch, snap a photo. Do not worry about your photos being long distance, or blurry. All photos help build up a catalog of data for scientists.

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Your photo is an important piece of data. Send it to the team using iNaturalist or directly to their email:

Take a Photo

Send the Data


People are helping scientists learn about the western migratory monarch population by sharing photos of these butterflies during the spring (February - April). You too can join the cause and become part of something big as a community scientist and monarch advocate.