The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
is Illinois' State Insect. It is found throughout our state and is easily recognized in all of its life stages. It relies on milkweed plants as food for its larval stage. Without milkweed plants, there will be no monarchs. Monarch populations have been rapidly declining in North America.
From 1999 through 2012 in the Midwestern United States, there was a 64 percent decrease in the amount of milkweed available and an 88 percent decline in the number of monarchs present. Monarchs are unusual because they make a yearly migration to survive the winter. For monarchs in eastern North America, the migration takes most of them to a specific area in Mexico. For the 2013-2014 overwintering season in Mexico, monarchs covered just 0.67 hectares (1.66 acres) of forest, the smallest amount of overwintering monarchs seen in these locations since they were discovered. The largest area in the past 20 years was 20.97 hectares (51.82 acres) in the winter of 1996-97.