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.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Good numbers today

Today the winds slowed and came from the North, and those Monarchs that were likely blown in yesterday took to the air. Our counts got better and better as the day went on, our morning count was average, but at noon we saw over 20 monarchs, and our 3 o'clock census saw 32 butterflies in less than 20 minutes! The greatest density were seen, as expected, along the dunes at Cape May Point. It's been a pretty cool day, the winds have been right, so maybe if we're lucky, just maybe someone will find a roost this week. If one is located, we will certainly keep you all posted.
Found 8 Monarch butterflies on this one butterfly bush on Harvard Road at Cape May Point.

A Carolina Mantid (Stagmomantis carolina) found on a different butterfly bush. Mantids predate on Monarchs and other insects.

In other news, we had another Monarch emerge from the chrysalis today! If you're at the Cape May Bird Observatory and want to see a caterpillar metamorphose into a chrysalis, or a chrysalis into a butterfly, here's what you need to watch for:

When a caterpillar is ready to metamorphose, it crawls upwards, sticks itself to a surface at its back end, and hangs into a J shape. Within the next 24 hours, it will become a chrysalis!

Monarch caterpillar in "J" shape. Photo credit: Lindsey Brendel

When the chrysalis is ready to metamorphose, it changes from green to black. Over the next 24 hours, you will start to see the unforgettable orange, black and white wing clearly inside the chrysalis.

Then, slowly and gracefully, the fully-formed adult butterfly pushes its way out of the confinement of the chrysalis and perches on the chrysalis to pump out its wings.

A butterfly's magnificent metamorphosis is something people rarely get to see in their lives, and that's why we keep the terrariums here at the CMBO.

We're working hard to increase your odds of witnessing the event by raising as many Monarchs as our terrariums can fit. We look forward to meeting you and answering any questions you may have at the Cape May Bird Observatory!

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