About IC Monarchs 

An image of the Monarch butterfly.
Monarch butterfly populations have declined by more than 90 percent in the past two decades.

Iowa City is committed to creating an environment that will allow monarchs to thrive and rehabilitate during the summer months, and is taking several steps to help support the monarch butterfly. 

Learn more about the monarch species and the ongoing efforts to help in Iowa City by clicking the links below:

Iowa City Monarch Festival 

Iowa City's 2020 Monarch Festival takes on a new format this year. It will be held on the first four Sundays in August in virtual form: Aug. 2, Aug. 9, Aug. 16, and Aug. 23. It will offer videos, giveaways and information on raising your own monarch butterflies at home.

Drive-thru pickup for Monarch crafts

As part of Monarch Festival, the City will be providing two separate monarch butterfly-themed craft kits for kids to make their own monarch art. 

  1. Pom pom caterpillar clip kit: Available to pick up via drive-thru from 12 to 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020 at the  Robert A. Lee Recreation Center's parking lot. There are four 15 minute windows residents can register for in-order to pick up crafts. Please register once for each kit needed. Registration is available online. 
  2. Origami butterfly kit & Butterfly and prairie seed packet: Available to pick up via drive-thru from 12 to 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020 at the  Robert A. Lee Recreation Center's parking lot. There are four 15 minute windows residents can register for in-order to pick up crafts and seed packets. Please register once for each kit needed. Registration is available online. 
Virtual Monarch Festival Video Series

As part of the 2020 Virtual Monarch Festival, we created a four-part video series that walks you through the process of raising Monarchs at home. Our host for the program is Brice Maren, employee at the City's East Side Recycling Center and butterfly enthusiast. Episodes will premiere at 2 p.m. on the first four Sunday's in August.

Episode #1: Collection Monarch Eggs

In the first episode, Brice shows you the different types of milkweed, how to find Monarch eggs, and some practical ways to collect them to follow the life cycle of the butterfly.

Episode #2: Caring for Caterpillars

In this episode, Brice discusses how to care for caterpillars including what type of containers to raise them in and how often to feed them. 

Episode #3: Chrysalis Phase

In this episode, Brice discusses how the chrysalis phase and how to set up n environment that will be safe for the monarch to emerge. 

Episode#4: Monarchs Emerge

In this episode, Brice discusses what to expect as monarchs emerge from the chrysalis and when to release the butterflies.

Local Monarch Initiatives 

Milkweed Distribution 

A key action in Iowa City is the planting of milkweed to help combat the declining population of monarch butterflies. 

Monarchs lay their eggs in milkweed during the summer months. When the caterpillars hatch they eat the leaves. The City of Iowa City has planted its own milkweed, while also giving away common milkweed for people to place in their own yards and gardens to help the monarchs. 

An image of common milkweed.
To learn how to grow milkweed in your backyard, view our "How to Grow Milkweed" guide. 

The City also supports monarch waystations that provide milkweed for monarchs at Wetherby, Hickory Hill and Hunter's Run Parks as well as the Eastside Recycling Center

Mayor's Monarch Pledge 

Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton signed the National Wildlife Federation's Mayors' Monarch Pledge on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016 to help raise awareness about declining Monarch populations. This pledge indicates a commitment from the City to help rehabilitate the Monarch population.

Local Monarch Research 

A team of students from Cornell College in Mount Vernon is conducting research at Waterworks Prairie Park in Iowa City.

They are working to understand how prairies and monarch butterflies interact. Dr. Tammy Mildenstein, of Cornell College, has designed a research program to learn about the relationship between prairie and monarch reproductive success. The goal is to provide managers and caretakers of parks, prairies and other outdoor spaces with research findings to increase suitability of milkweed populations for monarch reproduction and survival. With careful observation and thoughtful land stewardship, the team aims to revitalize the iconic monarch butterfly population. 

To learn more about the research, watch an informational video from Cornell College. 

Monarch Resources & Activities