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About Us • The Great Migration • About Noah Raven

Noah in February 2022, Piedra Herrada monarch butterfly reserve, Mexico

We are youth spanning three countries committed to protecting the incredible monarch butterflies.

Monarch butterflies are threatened, in part due to loss of habitat along their annual migratory routes. Our mission is to ensure their survival by restoring habitat, one yard at a time, across North America.

Monarchs are astonishing creatures with one of the most spectacular migrations on earth.

Eastern monarchs travel between 1,200 and 2,800 miles from the eastern U.S. and Canada, where they breed, to the oyamel fir tree forests in Mexico’s central highlands, where they hibernate during the winter. Western monarch butterflies overwinter on the California coast. Learn More

But they are heading towards extinction at an alarming rate.

Eastern monarch populations have declined by over 80% and western populations have declined by over 90% due to habitat loss, pesticides, and climate change and are one of the countless other species that humanity is threatening with extinction. Take Action

Together we can protect the monarchs and save them, one garden at a time. Please Join Us

The Great Migration

Several generations of monarchs will live, lay eggs, and die over the course of the summer. In mid-August, though, an incredibly special, super-generation is born. This generation is 30% larger and lives 8 times longer than the previous generations. They do not mate in the summer, but with incredible stamina, start migrating south to their wintering sites. The eastern monarchs migrate to oyamel fir trees in the mountains of central Mexico. The western monarchs migrate to the California coast. Weighing less than a gram, each butterfly in this generation of eastern monarchs will fly up to 3,000 miles.

In a remarkable feat, this super-generation, which has never been to their wintering site, finds their way back to the same location as their great-grandparents. Biologists have long been puzzled by monarchs’ extraordinary navigational skills, but have made some advances in cracking this mystery. Monarchs navigate using a solar compass in their antennae which allows them to orient south based on where the sun is in the sky. But when it is cloudy and the sun is blocked, they quite amazingly use the earth’s magnetic field for navigation. How the monarchs get to their specific same wintering site each year, though, still remains a bit of a mystery.

When they arrive at their wintering site, monarchs clump together on branches to rest safely through the winter. They cannot fly when temperatures are below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. When they wake from their hibernation in February and early March, the monarchs begin making their way north again. The eastern monarchs fly north towards Texas, where they mate, look for milkweed to lay eggs on, and then die. Several more generations continue this process through the summer, repopulating their breeding ground.

The Story of Monarch Defenders Founder, Noah Raven

I am 12 years old and live in Philadelphia. I recently traveled with my family to the oyamel fir forests of central Mexico, where monarch butterflies from all over the eastern United States and Canada roost during the winter. The site is up a steep mountain path, which we reached by riding horses. Butterflies hung in huge clumps on the trees and flew all around us as we stared in amazement.

But these spectacular creatures are at risk. Eastern monarch butterfly populations have declined by more than 80% and western populations (monarchs that travel to California instead of Mexico) have declined by more than 90% due to pesticide use, habitat loss, and climate change. Future generations need to be able to experience the awe of millions of butterflies waking from their hibernation and filling the air with streaks of orange.

So I started the Monarch Defenders, a group of youth across North America dedicated to protecting the butterflies. To become a Monarch Defender, you create a small habitat of milkweed and pollinator plants for the monarchs. We track all these new habitats on our interactive map. Our group also works to educate others about these remarkable butterflies, offers practical advice on how to start and sustain a monarch-friendly garden, provides information on political actions, and provides links to suppliers of milkweed and additional information.

Together we can protect the monarchs and save them, one garden at a time. Please Join Us

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Mexico Sees Big Fall in Monarch Butterflies at Wintering Sites

Associated Press

The number of monarch butterflies at their wintering areas in Mexico dropped this year to the second lowest level since record keeping began, experts say, blaming heat, drought and loss of habitat. Read more >>>

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