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Schultz Research Group Conservation Biology

Western Monarch Mystery Challenge


Updated February 2021

Monarch counts this Thanksgiving has hit another record low (source). We are currently looking for your help if you’ve seen a monarch, of any life stage (egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly), in the west.

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. Thank you all for participating and contributing to a meaningful and important project! 

How to participate:

  1. If you see a monarch outside of overwintering groves, take a picture! (Don’t worry, it can be far away and blurry).
  2. Report it through the following options and be sure to include date and location:
    1.  iNaturalist (the app is free)
    2.  Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper OR
    3.  Email it to
  3. Be entered to win a variety of prizes every week you report a sighting
  4. To stay updated: follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.



Looking for K-12 Mystery Challenge Educational Activity? – Click Here





Have the Challenge Dates Passed?

You can still submit sightings! If you see a monarch of any life stage (egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly), take a picture! (don’t worry, it can be far away and blurry).

Report it to iNaturalist, the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper or send us an email, along with the date, and location.

Follow Xerces Society to learn more about other ways to help Monarchs.


Previous Challenge Winners

Congratulations to our first prize winner! “irej” on iNaturalist is the winner of a $50 REI GIFT CARD!

A female monarch butterfly nectaring on rosemary observed by irej on Feb. 16, 2020 in Alameda, CA.


Congratulations to our 2nd week winner, Pete Bevelacqua! And he is receiving a gift card to Ethos Santa Cruz.

A monarch butterfly photographed in flight by Pete on Feb. 26, 2020 in Mountain View, CA.


Our third prize winner is waterlilykid from iNaturalist! Their photo was taken in Nipomo, CA, just in the outskirts of the Pismo overwintering site. Congratulations on winning an REI gift card!


Our fourth prize winner is @jonathan.curley.39 from Alameda County area! Jonathan is winning a flash pack, courtesy of REI in Saratoga!

A male monarch butterfly was photographed nectaring on a dandelion on March 9, 2020  in Alameda County (posted on iNaturalist).


Congratulations to @earthelation for winning our 5th week of the Western Monarch Mystery Challenge!

A monarch butterfly was photographed in flight on March 10th, 2020. n Half Moon Bay, CA.


Our 6th week winner is Chris from Davis, CA. Congratulations Chris! They are receiving a gift card to REI. We really enjoyed the creativity out of this monarch photograph! Keep up the good work team!

A monarch butterfly nectaring on Prunus was photographed on March 3rd, 2020 in Davis, CA.


Our seventh prize winner is kangyilin on iNaturalist! Congratulations!

A monarch butterfly nectaring on a yellow flower was photographed on March 23rd, 2020 in Sunnyvale, CA.


Our eighth prize winner is Sue from Santa Cruz. Congratulations! She’ll be receiving a gift card to Ethos Santa Cruz, a zero waste shop who’s receiving orders by phone and shipping and delivering during the shelter-in-place.

A monarch resting on oak leaves was photographed on April 3rd, 2020 in Santa Cruz, CA.


Our ninth prize winner is danielgeorge from @inaturalistorg ! This sighting is the most easterly report we’ve received, near @pinnaclesnps ! Congratulations! Daniel will be receiving a Flashpack from @rei

Take a look at how battered those wings are. This monarch has probably been traveling around for quite some time! Photographed on April 14th, 2020 in Pinnacles National Park.


Our tenth prize winner is Jonathan @phylogenomics from Davis, CA! Here’s his photo posted on iNaturalist.

A beautiful photograph of a monarch in flight in Davis, CA. April 16th, 2020.


And here it is… our final prize winner of the Western Monarch Mystery Challenge. J.P from Vallejo. Here’s their photo posted on iNaturalist.

A male monarch nectaring. Photographed in Vallejo, CA on April 26th, 2020.