Play it SAFE: How You Can Protect Monarchs

To celebrate the start of the fall migration for monarch butterflies, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) SAFE North American Monarch program is launching our Play it SAFE campaign. Learn about actions individuals and communities around North America can take to keep monarchs SAFE and support this iconic species. The SAFE Monarch program needs your help to keep monarchs safe throughout their migration!

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Unfortunately, the migratory populations of monarch butterflies have experienced dramatic declines over recent decades. Eastern overwintering populations have decreased by 80% and Western populations have decreased by as much as 99%. We’re asking you to Play it SAFE this fall and keep monarchs in mind.

We need your help to bolster the habitats for monarch butterflies in order to recover and sustain these butterflies’ populations. By planting native, pollinator-friendly gardens in backyards, communities, cities, and farmlands, we will create a conservation corridor between Canada and Mexico for both populations. By protecting monarchs, we are also protecting the health and well-being of the environment, wildlife and communities that live alongside them. People are key to saving species; together we can find solutions that benefit people and wildlife.

How you can help – Actions to Play it SAFE

Everyone can help keep monarchs SAFE. Every action counts, even simple ones, like planting, observing, and sharing.

This fall, the Play it SAFE campaign focuses on 6 key actions:

  1. Feed the migration by planting native flowering plants
  2. Keep caterpillars and butterflies healthy by planting native milkweed instead of tropical milkweed
  3. Plant monarch-SAFE plants that feed the migration, instead of plants poisoned with pesticides
  4. Cut any tropical milkweed down to the ground in mid-to-late October to keep monarchs safe from disease, and keep it cut down until spring
  5. Enjoy watching wild monarchs instead of rearing them indoors
  6. Share my monarch sightings with community scientists like Journey North

There are many ways to participate in Citizen Science opportunities!

Share what you find on social media with #PlayitSAFE #SAFEMonarchs #FeedTheMigration #SavingSpecies #SAFEMonarchNetwork!