dupage monarch project



Mosquito Control and Pollinators: What you should know and what you can do

Are you concerned about mosquito control chemicals negatively impacting pollinators? You are not alone!  And, if you’re confused about how to talk about the impact of mosquito control on pollinators in your community, you are also not alone!

The DuPage Monarch Project has prepared this handout to help you.  Read on to learn the basics about mosquito control chemicals and what you can do to work within your community to lessen the impact of these chemicals on pollinators.

Chemical Control: The Basics

  • Larvicides target mosquitoes in the aquatic larval stage and do not harm pollinators.
  • Adulticides kill adult mosquitoes and are typically sprayed into the air or directly onto plant leaves. Because some species of pollinators like monarchs, have chemical receptors on their legs and feet, adulticides applied directly to the plant leaf can kill a pollinator.
  • The use of adulticides – but not the use of larvicides – has been shown to have a negative impact on pollinators.

Balancing Priorities

Mosquitoes and the diseases that they bring with them, such as West Nile virus, are not going away. Communities are correct to place a high priority on protecting humans from illnesses caused by mosquitoes.  Consequently, chemical control of mosquitoes can be an unwelcome, but sometimes necessary, fact of urban life. But we can take steps to lessen the negative impact of chemical mosquito control on pollinators in our own communities.

Prevention First

Preventing the hatching of mosquito larvae is the easiest, cheapest and most effective way to reduce chemical use for controlling adult mosquitoes. You can do this by routinely checking your property for sources of standing water, where mosquitoes lay their eggs.  Keep buckets, gutters, birdbaths, trash cans, pools, pool covers, and other sources of standing water clean and dry. You can help pollinators in your community by talking with your neighbors and your community leaders about doing this too.

Knowing What’s Happening

Home gardeners and bee-keepers often ask about mosquito management in their area:  When does it happen and what products are used?  Typically, there is no single organization responsible for mosquito management in any state or county.  Finding this information will require some outreach on the part of an interested homeowner. As a concerned citizen, your goal should be to gather information on adult mosquito management, as larval management has no known impact on pollinators.

  • Contact your local government (city, township or county) to ask if spraying for adult mosquitoes is performed in your area. Ask if the spraying is performed by government employees or by an outside contractor.  Generally municipalities and their contractors spray (fog) from the street using trucks or handheld sprayers, or will apply residual barrier treatments directly onto plants using handheld sprayers.
  • If your property is adjacent to a park or forest preserve, contact the appropriate Park District or Forest Preserve District to gather information on their mosquito program, if one exists. Many Park or Forest Preserve Districts do not have in-house mosquito management programs.
  • If adult spraying is performed by a contractor, ask for a point-person you can contact within that company to gather the necessary information.
  • Because all current mosquito adulticide products have some effect on pollinators, the most important question is  when, and how, they spray in your area.
  • Keep in mind, adult mosquito treatments are fairly localized.  Aerial spraying (fogging) generally only affects the immediate treatment area.  Therefore, treatments even just a street over may not have an effect on your property.  Barrier treatments are even more localized, as they should only affect the vegetation that was directly sprayed.

Remember Your Neighbors

Keep in mind that your neighbors, apartment complexes, private businesses, condo associations and other local residents can hire private mosquito control companies themselves without needing to notify the municipality or anyone else nearby.

What Can You Do?

While mosquito adulticides are known to have potential negative impacts on butterflies and moths, if these products are applied at the labelled rates, at the correct time of day, and follow all labelled instructions, the impact on pollinators can be minimized.

Maintaining a friendly, respectful ongoing relationship with local government, contractors and neighbors is the single most important thing you can do to reduce the impact of mosquito control chemicals on pollinators.

  • Encourage the applicator to research and use the most ecological-responsible products available.  
  • Encourage the applicator to apply products following all labelled guidelines, paying particular attention to label rates and application instructions.  Inform them that there are sensitive pollinators in the area.
  • Encourage the applicator to spray after dusk, when many pollinators are not actively foraging.
  • If they do not already do so, ask if you can receive notification prior to any nearby treatments, so that you can take appropriate measures to cover your garden or other sensitive areas like decorative ponds.  If this is not possible, encourage them to develop a notification system for future treatments.
  • If possible, opt out of treatments around your home.  However, understand that this may not be possible, especially if the mosquitoes targeted carry human diseases (Culex mosquitoes, for example).
  • Make sure you do not have standing, stagnant water around your property.  Dumping these containers will reduce the local mosquito population, and therefore help reduce any need to spray for adult mosquitoes.  Encourage your neighbors to do the same.  
  • Where possible, cover sensitive areas with tarps to reduce the amount of pesticide contacting plants that attract pollinators. This will not provide complete protection, and in the case of honeybee colonies, may lead to overheating.  Tarps should be removed the morning after pesticide application.

DuPage Monarch Project and Forest Preserve District of DuPage County Team Up to Offer Program

Discover how to help protect endangered butterflies, bees and dragonflies at “Beyond Monarchs: Preserving Endangered Butterflies, Bees and Dragonflies” on Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m. at Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St. in Oak Brook. The free program is co-hosted by Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and DuPage Monarch Project. Registration is not required.

Forest Preserve District ecologist Andres Ortega will discuss conservation efforts in local forest preserves for Baltimore checkerspot butterflies, Hine’s emerald dragonflies and rusty-patched bumblebees. The program will also provide practical strategies for homeowners and communities tohelp protect butterflies and other pollinators.
The District is closely monitoring a colony of Baltimore checkerspot butterflies and Hine’s emerald dragonflies along the Des Plaines River and leading a captive-rearing- and-release program for Hine’s emerald dragonflies at its Urban Stream Research Center at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville. The District is also monitoring populations of rusty-patched bumblebees in DuPage forest preserves and applies its findings to land management decisions and policies to increase and improve habitat for these endangered insects.

“Pollinators are being adversely affected, and it is our responsibility to protect and restore those populations. Their decline affects us all,” said Forest Preserve District of DuPage County President Joe Cantore.

“We are focusing on these three species in an effort to protect and improve the habitat that they and many other native insects rely on,” said Forest Preserve District Commissioner Jeff Redick, District 2.

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has been connecting people to nature for more than 100 years. More than 4 million people visit its 60 forest preserves, 145 miles of trails, five education centers and scores of programs each year.

For information, call 630-933- 7200 or visit, where you can also link to the District’s e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.


Monarch Messenger Says Everyone Can Help Save Monarchs

Monarch butterflies are a hot topic these days; everyone is talking about them. They pop up in expected places like gatherings of environmentalists, but also casually among gardeners, teachers and school children. When a conversation gets going, it doesn’t take long for someone to mention Pat Miller. The long time monarch advocate frequently speaks around DuPage and recently appeared at the Children’s Monarch Fest sponsored by the Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition.   An impressive string of credentials follows her name, including Monarch Watch Conservation Specialist, Master Gardener, and Master Naturalist.   She is the woman the Chicago Tribune dubbed “Queen of the Monarchs.”

It wasn’t always this way. A decade ago, monarchs were just pretty butterflies people remembered from their childhood or had once seen in their garden. The monarch movement came to DuPage in 2005 when Jane Foulser, a long time Sierra Club member and activist visited a friend in Lawrence Kansas, one of the epicenters for monarch research and conservation, where she met Chip Taylor, founder of Monarch Watch. She learned of the threats facing the migrating butterflies and their dramatic decline. Taylor had just kicked off the Monarch Waystation program, a habitat replacement solution directed at gardeners. Foulser, an accomplished gardener, quickly saw how easily gardens could be modified into monarch friendly oases if gardeners knew what to do. Her experience as a Sierra Club activist had prepared her for taking this message to the community and she was eager to get started.


When Foulser returned to Elmhurst, she enlisted long time friend Pat Miller to join her in taking the message to the community. They began by modifying and registering their own gardens with Monarch Watch, the first in DuPage to be added to the registry, then the two monarch crusaders took to the speaking circuit with posters and power point in hand.  They believed ten local waystations with milkweed and nectar plants, especially the fall blooming species like asters and goldenrods that supply fuel for migration could be registered in the first year. By 2006, nine more waystations had been added to the registry. The goal had been reached and Miller had found a calling.

Twelve years into the Monarch Waystation program, Miller’s garden beautifully exemplifies what her talks describe as the solution to the declining number of monarchs, which threatens its ability to bounce back from extreme weather events and exposure to insecticides. The front and back yards are a mix of milkweed and the more traditional flowers found in suburban gardens, harmoniously combined into several flowing perennial beds.

Becoming a monarch messenger was a natural for Miller. She grew up as an “outdoor kid” in central Illinois, directly experiencing nature and making discoveries on her own. Her fresh delivery and enthusiasm for talking about monarchs is fueled by a desire to pass along the wonder and joy of her childhood to a generation of kids spending less and less time outdoors.  Butterflies are a safe and engaging ambassador for the insects children are encountering less frequently in parks, preserves and their own yards.

“Maybe the single most important thing we can do for conservation in general,” writes Anurag Agrawal, author of Monarchs and Milkweed: A Migrating Butterfly, A Poisonous Plant and Their Remarkable Story of Coevolution, “is to give people an appreciation of nature.” When Miller passes around monarch eggs, caterpillars and the iconic orange and black butterfly to her audience while telling the story of a life cycle that includes a 3000 mile migration, she is giving them a connection to the natural world. Suddenly they see their backyards as habitat and how their gardens fit into the bigger picture, as a trail of resting places dotting a long and arduous journey.

Her message is being heard. What began with two waystations in DuPage County grew to 241 by 2017.

Monarchs still need our help. Monarch Joint Venture has put out a call for an “all hands on deck” approach to creating the amount of habitat necessary for a population of butterflies large enough to weather normal annual variations. Miller is confident it can be done, one garden at a time.

“We make choices every day,” said Miller, “what we wear, what to eat for breakfast, whether or not to squish a bug. We have so much power in our everyday choices. Don’t ever forget how much power you have to change things.”

Call for Art

Call for Art flyer.DE.517The DuPage Monarch Project and Forest Preserve District of DuPage County are holding a pollinator themed art exhibit May 2 – June 1, 2018 at the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook.

Submissions are welcome Feb 1st – April 15 2018.  Additional details and dates are available on the poster.

All pollinator themed work is welcome, bees, bugs, beetles, bats and butterflies.


New Monarch Waystation in Glendale Heights

When Keith Knautz, Director of Glendale Heights Parks and Recreation, found out about the declining population of monarchs, he shared what he had learned with his wife, an avid gardener.  They talked about the many monarchs they had seen as kids and how rare spottings are today.

The good news was there was something the Glendale Heights Park District could do to help monarchs recover some of their lost habitat — plant a waystation.

Chuck Dymbrowski, Lead Foreman for the Park District contacted Dupage Monarch Project to learn more about waystations.  With suggestions in hand and a list of plants, an appropriate site was found at the Village’s Historic House.

On May 8th, volunteers from the Eaton Corporation based in Glendale Heights, planted a waystation.

The garden will settle in this spring and summer, maturing into an inviting spot for monarchs to find food and lay eggs, where caterpillars will munch milkweed and transform into butterflies.

Thank you Keith Knautz, Chuck Dymbrowski and Eaton Corp volunteers for being part of the recovery effort and helping to protect the Illinois state butterfly.

West Chicago Mayor Signs Mayors’ for Monarchs Pledge

West Chicago Mayor Ruben Pineda announced at the recent State of the City Address that he was proud to have signed the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF’s) Mayors’ Monarch Pledge in March as a means to bring awareness and to promote action in West Chicago to save the Monarch butterfly.

A critical pollinator to the agricultural system, the monarch’s population has declined by over 90 percent in the last twenty years. It is the NWF’s belief that when Mayors speak up and take a stand, citizens listen. A copy of the NWF Mayors’ Monarch Pledge may be found on the City’s website, under Government/Mayor for your information, along with the list of twenty-five possible actions the City could take (only three are required) to fulfill the Pledge.

While monarchs are found across the United States — numbering some 1 billion in 1996 — their numbers have declined by approximately 90 percent in recent years, a result of numerous threats, particularly loss of habitat due to agricultural practices, development and cropland conversion. Degradation of wintering habitat in Mexico and California has also had a negative impact on the species.

Community groups in West Chicago including the West Chicago Garden Club, the Green Disciples of the First United Methodist Church (FUMC) of West Chicago and the West Chicago Environmental Commission, advocated for the signing of the Pledge because of its associated benefits to the environment and the high level of community support such a Pledge would bring to implementation measures.

As stated in a letter from the Environmental Commission to the City, there would be little or no cost to the City to implement the action items. The Environmental Commission specifically recommended eight action items that could be accomplished as joint efforts between community partners and the Conservation Foundation. In fact, efforts by the FUMC and Ball Horticultural Company have already begun, with portions of their grounds certified as “monarch way stations” by Monarch Watch, an organization also concerned about the survival of the Monarch butterfly.

Through the NWFs Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, cities and municipalities commit to creating habitats and educating citizens on ways they can make a difference in their very own home. “Mayors and other local government officials play a pivotal role in advancing monarch butterfly conservation in urban and suburban areas,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “By working together we can ensure that every American child has a chance to experience majestic monarchs in their backyards and communities.”

Learn more at and get more updates from the National Wildlife Federation at

Westmont Approves Monarch Resolution

On March 16, the Village of Westmont adopted a resolution to support the DuPage Monarch Project, which is an organized effort to improve and increase available monarch habit.  The resolution, which was initiated by the Westmont Environmental Improvement Commission (EIC), brings awareness to the concern of diminished butterfly populations.

“The DuPage Monarch Project is pleased and excited by the Village of Westmont’s monarch resolution and its commitment to monarch and pollinator conservation,” said Lonnie Morris, Coordinator of the DuPage Monarch Project. “The growing number of monarch friendly communities in DuPage means there are more opportunities to learn from each other, share ideas and create oases of habitat within range for the short flights of native bees and butterflies.”

The EIC has coordinated a spring speaker series on a host of environment-related topics.  On Wednesday, May 3, 7 p.m. at the Westmont Public Library, 428 N. Cass Avenue, the topic will be “WHERE ARE THE MONARCHS?”  The presentation will feature local resident Pat Miller who will look at historical environmental factors that affect the monarch butterfly population. Miller will share information about efforts to turn the tide of butterfly population decline and what can be done to help.

The Village of Westmont and Clarendon Hills also continue to move forward together with the Richmond Education Garden & Apiary project, which will feature a butterfly-friendly habitat. There have also been conversations about possibly introducing natural vegetation improvements along the BNSF railroad corridor to further assist with this initiative.

For more information on how you can support butterfly habitat, visit the DuPage Monarch Project website at and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Website at

Glen Ellyn Joins Growing Number of Monarch Friendly Communities

The Glen Ellyn Park District signed a monarch resolution on February 7th, formalizing a longstanding commitment to monarch conservation. The Park District is the seventh municipal entity to endorse DuPage Monarch Project’s goal of expanding and improving habitat for a butterfly that in recent years has experienced an alarming and precipitous decline in population.

Students at Ben Franklin Elementary School kicked off Glen Ellyn’s summer of monarchs in 2015 when they decided to learn more about the challenges facing the butterfly and what could be done to help them. Their interest quickly expanded beyond the classroom into a collaborative, village wide effort between the Village of Glen Ellyn, Park District, Public Library, School District 41, and Willowbrook Wildlife Center. Monarchs were featured on banners, two monarch programs were presented at the library, over 80 volunteers participated in planting two new butterfly gardens, approximately 800 milkweed plants were given away or planted and hundreds of milkweed seed packets were distributed.

“Glen Ellyn is a powerful example of how diverse public bodies can cooperate and work together on an issue like monarch conservation,” said Lonnie Morris, Coordinator for the DuPage Monarch Project.   “Each one made a contribution that added up to Glen Ellyn being monarch friendly from their parks and public spaces into residential gardens.”

The 2015 summer of monarch initiatives will be ongoing under the newly signed resolution, which sets monarch protection and habitat as park district priorities.It may take many years for the butterfly to recover, but Glen Ellyn is already preparing the next generation of conservationists by introducing young people to the joys of discovering the natural world.


“Searching for monarch eggs and caterpillars is a favorite activity for kids who come through our nature camp programs,” said Renae Frigo, a naturalist with the Glen Ellyn Park District. “The past few years has proved more challenging to find them, but once the campers know what to look for, they cannot help but check milkweed plants during other activities. Watching a child walk past a plant, flip the leaf to look for monarch activity, warms my heart. They are hopeful in their search, and it reminds me that we should be hopeful for the species, that we are moving in a better direction.”

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