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Sonoma County Gazette
City of Sonoma Monarch Team

The City of Sonoma Joins Tri-National Campaign to Protect Monarch Butterflies

Jul 24, 2019


By Cindy Lindh

Mayor's Monarch PledgeMayor Amy Harrington has signed the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Tri-National Monarch Pledge ( committing to the protection of Monarch Butterflies and their habitat in the City of Sonoma. “Any action we can take to support Monarch Butterflies benefits all pollinators. Council members are uniformly supportive as they understand the value of a sustainable ecosystem for both plants and animals”, she says.

Twelve years ago, the US Senate unanimously approved designating a week in June to National Pollinator Week to bring attention to the importance of pollinators and appeal to the public for their help as pollinator populations decline. Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, and beetles that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. Without the actions of pollinators, agricultural economies, our food supply, and surrounding landscapes would collapse. (

40% of the world's insect species may go extinct over the next few decades.

Monarch Migration Map - Nature ServeThis problem is real, the impacts of decline will be devastating, and the time to act is now  .

The western population of Monarch Butterflies continues to plummet and is down over 86 percent since last year and is over 99 percent down from the population high in the 1980s.

If you’re confused because you’re hearing seemingly conflicting reports about the Monarch population, it’s likely because the news was focusing on different populations: Eastern (Monarchs east of the Rockies) vs.Western (Monarchs west of the Rockies). Hopefully, this clears up some of the confusion.

Both populations remain in trouble.

We all must continue to keep the effort up to restore habitat by planting native milkweeds and nectar plants, by not spraying dangerous pesticides, and by encouraging our friends, neighbors, and elected officials to get involved.

According to the Action Items in the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge which includes Canada, North America, and Mexico, residents from cities in the three participating countries are encouraged to find out about ways to help these iconic symbols of our insect world by planting host plants.

Thanks to the interest of Sonoma leaders, citizens may do so by visiting the Sonoma Garden Park Butterfly Garden (19996 7th St E, Sonoma), a project of the Sonoma Ecology Center, and the Monarch-Pollinator Garden located behind the First Congregational Church  (252 W Spain St., Sonoma).

Monarch Caterpillar on MilkweedFREE milkweed seeds and native narrow-leaf milkweed plants are available from the latter location during tour times.
Garden tours there are Wednesdays and Sundays from 4-6pm, July - August.

The Monarch-Pollinator Garden is a collaborative effort of the First Congregational Church Earth Care TeamCalifornia State Parks-Vallejo Home Property, and the Valley of the Moon Garden Club. “The objective of both groups is to re-create a superhighway for pollinators throughout Sonoma Valley. Locals tell us they remember Monarch Butterflies when they use to fly through this valley in the millions. Challenge on: Bring ‘em back, Sonoma!“, says Cindy Lindh.

A major help for the cause is the City of Sonoma’s ban on the use of glyphosate (a key ingredient in products such as Monsanto’s RoundUp) within city limits.

Monarch egg. (photo: Lisa Brown/flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0)Pesticide use has had a devastating effect on pollinators and all life forms along with droughts, floods, fires, climate change, habitat loss due to urbanization and sweeping mono-cultures like grapes and other crops. Bonnie Brown of the Valley of the Moon Garden Club hopes each resident will plant organic pollinator-friendly plants on their patios, in their gardens and/or vineyards too. She said, “We could grow the Biggest Little Garden throughout Sonoma Valley!” City Council members recently visited the Monarch-Pollinator Garden to acknowledge the signing of the  Mayors’ Monarch Pledge.

Vice Mayor Logan Harvey expressed his amazement over the miraculous transformation of caterpillars to chrysalis where “they essentially turn into liquid state, rearrange their DNA then become such beautiful, butterflies”. He says, “their 4,000-mile migration is yet another provocative mystery”.

Western Monarch Biology

The council members encourage residents to visit, Sonoma’s two educational butterfly gardens, our local nurseries, and relish the beauty and benefits they have the power to create!

Photo back L-R:  City Council David Cook, Earth Care Team Member Cindy Lindh, Sonoma Ecology Center Diane Sanson, City Council Madolyn Agrimonti, Earth Care Team Member Susan Kovalik, Earth Care Team Member Dick Ridenhour.  Photo front L-R:  CA State Parks-Vallejo Property Lynn Luzzi, Vice Mayor Logan Harvey

Cindy Lindh, Earth Care Team

SOURCE of images:

Monarch emergence and 5th Instar Photo Credit: Becky Hansis O’Neill
Monarch egg - PHOTO Lisa Brown

Monarch Migration Map, Spring & fall -

Western Monarch Biology

The Monarch Life Cycle -Monarchs (Danaus plexippus plexippus) leave overwintering sites in February and March and typically reach the northern limit of their North American range in early to mid-June. Adult females lay eggs singly on milkweed species (primarily Asclepias spp., but occasionally on other closely related species as well, including Gomphocarpus spp. and Calotropis spp.), which the caterpillars rely upon for energy and protective toxins called cardenolides. Milkweeds are critical for successful development of the caterpillar into an adult butterfly. Once an egg is laid, the full cycle to adulthood may last 20 to 35 days (sometimes longer) depending on temperature. The caterpillars develop through five instars before forming a chrysalis and pupating into an adult butterfly. During the spring and summer, an adult monarch spends its 2–5 week lifespan mating and nectaring on flowers, with females searching for milkweed upon which to lay their eggs. Multiple generations are produced during this time, with the final fall generation migrating to overwintering sites and living for 6–9 months.


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