Monarch butterfly on milkweed bloom.

Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett has joined other city chief executives across the United States, Canada, and Mexico to take action to help save the monarch butterfly! Won’t you join the Mayor in the fight to protect this beautiful species?

In March 2021, Mayor Chuck Bennett signed a new proclamation, renewing his commitment to restoring monarch habitat. Since 2017, the City of Salem has participated in the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayor’s Monarch Pledge, working to increase monarch and pollinator habitat throughout the City and encouraging the public to do the same.

What is the issue?

The most well recognized butterfly, the monarch, is facing rapidly decreasing populations, habitat loss, and near extinction.

Herbicides and pesticides used to target other unwanted pests and plants are killing off monarchs and their host plants (milkweeds). Use of herbicides has resulted in a severe reduction in monarch habitat available in the spring and summer months when monarchs would be feeding and breeding in our area. Land clearing also contributes to loss of habitat, and climate change may be a contributing factor as well. Residential properties make up approximately 47% of the urban landscape in Salem, meaning community members can play a vital role in helping with the recovery of this iconic species.

What can you do to help?

Plant native milkweed in your garden, yard, or neighborhood. Since monarch caterpillars rely solely on milkweed, it is critical for their survival.  Without this plant they cannot complete their lifecycle and their populations will continue to decline.

We strongly suggest planting milkweed native to our region, which includes:

  • Asclepias fascicularis (Narrow-leaved Milkweed)
  • Asclepias speciosa (Showy Milkweed)

Note: Do not plant tropical milkweed, as it is not native to the U.S. and can create problems with monarch migration.

Other ways you can help:

  • Plant a pollinator garden with native nectar-producing plants along with your milkweed.
  • Garden organically and limit the use of pesticides and herbicides.
  • Educate others about pollinators and what they can do to help.
  • Monarchs can be found in the Pacific Northwest from May to September, so look for butterfly flowers that bloom then.
  • Look for plants with overlapping bloom times. (Download a pdf brochure.)
  • Plant a single species in clusters in sunny locations.
  • Before buying plants, ask your nursery about their use of systemic insecticides. These pesticides can be especially harmful to butterflies and other beneficial insects.

What the City of Salem is doing

  • Encouraging community members in Salem to plant monarch gardens at their homes or in their neighborhoods.
  • Connecting with community garden groups to encourage the planting of native milkweed and nectar-producing plants.
  • Working to revise mowing programs on city property to encourage the development of monarch and pollinator habitat.
  • Planting monarch friendly demonstration gardens on city property including City Hall, located at 555 Liberty Street SE, and Eola Ridge Park, located on Dan Avenue NW.
  • Engaging schools and youth to plant native milkweed and nectar plants in their school gardens and on school property. Contact us to get on our mailing list to secure a presentation during the school year.
  • Working to adopt less harmful pesticide practices.


The western population of Monarch butterflies has declined by more than 99% since the 1980s.

Interesting facts about the monarch

  • Specific name: Danaus plexippus
  • A group of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope or flutter.
  • Size: Wingspan 3.7–4.1 inches
  • Weight: 0.0095–0.026 ounces, less than 3/4 the weight of a dollar bill.
  • Average life span: 6​–8 months
  • Most monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains overwinter on the coast of California, but some migrate as far as Michoacán, Mexico, a trip of around 2,500 miles.
  • Monarchs can fly between 50 to 100 miles per day. The longest recorded distance traveled in one day is 265 miles.


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