To get started, you’ll need to find a site where you can inventory all the monarch eggs and caterpillars. While the site you choose must contain milkweed, there is no minimum or maximum number of plants. You’ll also need to confirm that the site hasn’t been treated with any pesticides.
Milkweed is found in almost all open sites: in abandoned fields, along country roads, in parks, on forest edges, near paths, etc. Milkweed usually prefers disturbed sites, and thrives in poor soil. So look for it in wide-open spaces like fields and vacant lots.
…and look around carefully!
Once you’ve chosen your site, take note of all the species of milkweed you can see. Use the milkweed identification sheets for your area to help you recognize them.
When you go online to send in your data, you will be asked to indicate the total surface area of your site on a map. A site is defined as the entire area in which milkweed could grow, even if it isn’t found everywhere. For instance, if there is a tiny patch of milkweed in the middle of a large field, the total area of your site will be the whole field. So take the time to look around carefully and to pick out some landmarks to help you mark your observations on the map.
Pick a starting point. This can be any spot that it is easy to access. Just remember to always start in the same spot.
Be sure to get permission to access your chosen site. If it is private property, talk to the owners about what you are doing. They may be very happy to be part of Monarch Mission thanks to you! This is also a good time to ask them to leave the milkweed growing on their property alone, so as avoid any nasty surprises for you midway through the season.