Saving Butterflies, One Golf Course at a Time

Audubon International and Environmental Defense Fund team with golf courses to create habitat for monarch butterflies and other pollinators

Photo taken by Matt Ceplo, Audubon International Board Member & Monarchs In The Rough participant

(TROY, NY) Audubon International and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have partnered to launch Monarchs in the Rough, a program to assist golf courses in the United States, Canada and Mexico in creating monarch butterfly habitat in out-of-play areas. The program is offering the first 100 participants free and regionally appropriate milkweed seeds – enough to establish one acre of habitat.

“Over the past 20 years, populations of the iconic monarch butterfly have declined by 90 percent. A key reason for this population decline is loss of habitat, especially of milkweed plants, which monarchs need to reproduce and for their caterpillars to eat,” said Marcus Gray, director of the Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf at Audubon International. “As large landowners, golf courses are uniquely positioned to help reverse habitat loss and save monarchs, providing a much-needed refuge while increasing the beauty and sustainability of their courses.”

Monarchs in the Rough provides course superintendents and staff with the information and technical support they need to incorporate monarch habitat into the unique layout of each course.

Golf courses occupy approximately 2.5 million acres in the United States. Audubon International estimates there are at least 100,000 acres that have the potential to become suitable habitat for butterflies, if managed appropriately. The program encourages golf courses to adopt other conservation practices in addition to planting milkweed, such as planting wildflowers as a source of nectar, changing mowing practices to support the timing of the monarch’s migration, and protecting sites from pesticide treatments.

“If we are to succeed in recovering populations of this beloved species, we will need help from all sectors and all types of land uses,” said Daniel Kaiser, manager of California habitat markets at EDF. “It’s exciting to see the golf course community stepping up to do its part.”

For more information about Monarchs in the Rough, including a resource guide, please visit:

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