Field reportsMonarchs

Data Collection Critical in Monarch Listing Decision, Supporting Habitat

While the decision of whether the monarch butterfly should be listed as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act will not occur until this upcoming December, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is currently gathering the information they need on nationwide conservation efforts to aid in their decision-making. To accomplish this, the USFWS developed the Monarch Conservation Database (MCD). The database enables farmers and landowners to input new and existing acres of monarch habitat and will help the USFWS and conservation partners assess conditions for the monarch now and into the future, according to the USFWS website.

To best support monarch habitat, and ensure an informed listing decision, it is critical that farmers and landowners provide as much information as possible on their efforts. Luckily, there are tools available making that effort easier than ever. For example, HabiTally is an app that was launched last summer and hosted by Iowa State University (ISU) that enables farmers, ranchers, landowners and private citizens to support conservation efforts by entering data about monarch habitat conservation efforts on their farms or yards, or even in locations like churches or parks where groups may create new habitat. Users drop pins on a map to mark their conservation habitat location and enter basic, key characteristics of the habitat which include the estimated number of milkweed stems, the percent of nectar flowers and, if known, the date the habitat was planted. Data collected by HabiTally will be housed at ISU and shared with the USFWS to help guide future conservation and protection decisions.

Alternatively, landowners and farmers can register for access to the MCD web application by first sending an email to In the email, include the following information:

  • First and last name
  • Organization (or indicate that you are a private individual)
  • Email address
  • Phone number (optional)

After sending the registration request, you will receive an email from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Environmental Conservation Online System (ECOS) helpdesk with a link to login to the ECOS public website and a temporary password.