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.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Monarchs Still Migrating

Female monarch THW 569

The monarch pictured above has already made impressive headway on her journey south.  With frost already having hit northern New Jersey, Delia Smith brought this female monarch that she had reared, 155 miles south, from Wagner Farms Arboretum to Cape May Point.  In a chance meeting with one of our field technicians, Delia's monarch was tagged before it was released in the Triangle Park this afternoon.  This female now sports the tag code THW 569, and we have the highest hopes that she will continues a successful migration southward, and hopefully be recovered along her journey.  

Delia shared with our team that she is in her final semester, studying landscape architecture at Temple University.  She also shared that she educates and advocates for the use of native plants in landscaping.  In saying this, Delia is already a volunteer for the Monarch Monitoring Project.  The importance of using of backyard and public space as a place for butterfly gardening and wildlife habitat is something that our team shares with visitors every day.  

Chrysalis in Triangle Park.
In doing our field work, we see far fewer chrysalides outdoors than we do caterpillars.  Today, we did spot one in the Triangle Park.  It is at the end of the walkway, (where you can turn right and walk toward the benches and picnic table), nestled in the morning glory.

It is late in the season, but monarch butterflies and caterpillars are still being seen all over the point.  There are still unhatched eggs on the tropical milkweed in Triangle Park.  The monarch life cycle, (from egg to adult butterfly) takes about one month.  The chances of these eggs becoming successful migratory butterflies is slim. Monarchs are tropical butterflies and don't have the adaptation to withstand freezing temperatures, so the first heavy frost will kill any eggs or caterpillars.  

The unhatched monarch eggs laid on tropical milkweed are pushing the limits of the fall migration.

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