The Monarch Monitoring Project is a long-term study on monarch migration through Cape May, NJ. It is a part of the New Jersey Audubon Research Department, and closely affiliated with the Cape May Bird Observatory.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Where do the monarchs go when it rains?

It's been raining quite a bit the past few days, and our census numbers seem to be sparse when it's raining. So where do all the monarchs disappear to when it rains? Today I witnessed the answer for myself. While doing the noon census count, halfway through the route, the rain stopped and the sun started to come out. The dune line of Cape May Point came to life as monarchs emerged from the pines and shrubs, and splashes of orange fluttered across the road. When the rain stops, even for short spurts, the monarchs (and other butterflies) emerge from sheltered areas they have been hiding in, and dash out to feed on nectar which is a crucial source of energy for them to store as they prepare for Mexico. Many of the monarchs in Cape May were not born here; they are only making a pit stop after coming from more northern locations. Past tagging recoveries have taught us that monarchs tend to travel along the coastline down towards Florida, where they will then follow the panhandle and western coast along the Gulf of Mexico, heading right towards their destination. When weather conditions are poor for traveling, the monarchs seek protection and find the closest shelter they can. Sturdy plants and trees; especially pines, provide good shelter and a sturdy grip for their double-hooked feet to grasp onto until weather conditions are favorable again. If you're in Cape May for the weekend, don't lose hope on seeing monarchs, just remember to keep your eyes out for them for short spurts once the showers stop and a little bit of sun breaks through. Have a good weekend :)


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