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Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare vertebrate animals, contact:
Rich Staffen
Conservation Biologist
For information on Wisconsin's rare invertebrates, contact:
Jay Watson
Conservation Biologist

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)



Monarch (Danaus plexippus), is found throughout much of North America. The familiar monarch butterfly is the most widespread milkweed butterfly of the Danaus genus. Wisconsin monarchs are migratory, journeying to central Mexico for the winter each year. Adults feed on nectar collected from flowers. Monarchs have a wingspan of 86-125 mm, and are bright orange in color with thick black veins on their wings.

North American monarch butterflies are in decline. Threats, including climate change, pesticide use and habitat loss are having a devastating impact on their populations and the migration phenomenon. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently assessing the status of the monarch butterfly [exit DNR].

Sign up to receive Wisconsin monarch news and updates direct to your inbox. This species is not actively tracked in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database, but it could be tracked in the future if there is further evidence of its decline.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Monarch (Danaus plexippus). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where occurrences of this species meet NHI data standards and is not meant as a comprehensive map of all observations.

Note: Species recently added to the NHI Working List may temporarily have blank occurrence maps.

Danaus plexippus is not tracked by the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory Program at this time (this species is not on the NHI Working List).
Summary Information
State Statusnone
Federal Status in WisconsinC
State RankSU
Global RankG4
Tracked by NHIW

Species guidance

A guidance document is not available at this time. Use the information from the other tabs and contact local biologists, as needed, to develop management and avoidance strategies.




Monarch roosting on Green Amaranth.

Photo © Ann Swengel.


Monarch chrysalis.

Photo by  staff, WDNR.

Last revised: Thursday, October 08, 2020