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  • This article introduces students to a citizen science project that tags and tracks monarch butterflies to see where they go to overwinter. It notes the importance of observation and data collection – over long periods of time and often over large areas – needed to monitor butterfly behaviour.

    The tagging project gathered data from 2005–2021. The data has shown that the majority of monarchs overwinter in the area around where they eclose (become adults).

    Surveys by the Moths and Butterfles of New Zealand Trust indicate that monarch numbers may be in decline. In 2022, the monarch butterfly was declared endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

    The article briefly explores the monarch butterfly’s life cycle, habits and names – including Māori, scientific and common names.

    People are doing heaps for kauri, kiwi and kākāpō but nothing for endemic butterfly species, yet insects are crucial to the ecosystem.

    Jacqui Knight Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust

    Check your school resource area for the article from the 2013 level 2 Connected journal ‘I Spy’, download it as a google slide presentation or order it from the Ministry of Education.

    The teacher support material (TSM) can be downloaded from TKI (PDF file), click on 'Look inside this issue'). The material focuses on the science capabilities ‘Gather and interpret data’ and ‘Interpret representations’, and several aspects of the nature of science – located within the article text. It also outlines activities that support observation and action.

    Related content

    Check out our entire range of Connected articles here. We’ve curated them by topic and concepts.

    Citizen science

    Some of the people helping to fill the gaps in our butterfly knowledge are citizen scientist groups like the Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust led by Jacqui Knight.

    Participate in one of the citizen science projects below that have a focus on butterflies and moths.


    Find out more about monarch butterflies and the Monarch butterfly life cycle.

    The Hub has an extensive range of resources featuring butterflies – see this article that introduces our butterfly resources. This includes links to 2 unit plans, one for lower primary and one for upper primary. These were based on the experiences of a year 4 class as they took action to protect butterflies in their school environment.

    The topic butterflies and moths has links to our articles, activities, media and professional development resources. Remember, you can use the filters to narrow your search results.

    Useful links

    Visit the Moths and Butterflies of New Zealand Trust (MBNZT) website.

    Watch this Ted Talk by Mary Ellen Hannibal on how you can help save the monarch butterfly – and the planet.

    The Connected journals can be ordered from the Down the Back of the Chair website. Access to these resources is restricted to Ministry-approved education providers. To find out if you are eligible for a login or if you have forgotten your login details contact their customer services team on 0800 660 662 or email


    The Connected series is published annually by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.

      Published 14 September 2019, Updated 2 August 2022 Referencing Hub articles
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