Phenology Investigation Protocols

Getting Started

Before diving into the investigation protocols, read through these introductory documents. “Introduction to the Phenology Project” provides some background information about phenology, as well as breaks down key concepts and driving factors for the investigations. “Milkweed Identification and Site Selection” provides descriptions and tips for identifying milkweed and a suitable site for observations. The “Phenology, Damage, and Invertebrate Guide” contains a wide array of images to help identify phases of milkweed phenology, any biotic or abiotic signs of damage to the plant, and invertebrates that prey upon or pollinate milkweed. The “Site Data Form” is a necessary component of each project.


Explore our three investigation protocols. They will provide a step-by-step guide to gathering standardized data that can be used alongside data collected across the country! The “General Milkweed Measurement Protocols” document includes more specific measurement instructions and tips. Be sure to check out our instructional videos for a visual guide and training for taking accurate measurements. Each of the protocols can be downloaded and printed from a google document to bring into the field.

Projects #1 and #3 pair well together. If you intend to participate in both projects, be sure to observe the target milkweed first for pollinators (#3) before approaching the milkweed and disturbing them.

Data Sheets

These pre-formatted data sheets pair with the project protocols above. Each data sheet can be downloaded and printed from a google spreadsheet to bring into the field. We also have some supplemental image card resources for you to print out and bring into the field for easier identification of invertebrates and leaf damage. Check the Project Breakdown table on the Phenology Project Overview page to see how many times you should take measurements for each investigation!

Remember to fill out however many Site Data Forms you need for the different locations you choose to analyze! The Site Data Form is located in the Getting Started section above, as well as on the Phenology Data Submission page, if you would rather input all your data into one place.