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.

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Few FAQs

Members of our CMBO - Monarch Monitoring Project team are always eager to share information about monarch biology and answer questions that come to us in person and via e-mail.  There are a few questions that we receive frequently, so we are sharing those questions and the answers in today's blog post.  We may come back with more FAQs in a week or two.

When is the best time to see the most monarchs in Cape May Point?

Oh, how we wish we could predict this!  We'd have the biggest monarch party you can imagine if we knew when the biggest flights would happen.  But we can't know.  It's partly dependent on the weather -- autumn cold fronts that bring northwest winds typically deliver lots of monarchs and migrating birds into Cape May -- but some cold fronts bring more than others.  All we can say is that most years most monarchs come between Sept. 10 and Oct. 20.  During that period there are usually 4 to 6 distinct peaks in monarch numbers with lulls in between.  The longer you stay, the better your chances to see a major monarch movement.  But come any day during that period and there are probably going to be a lot of monarchs around.

Where are the monarchs roosting?

We usually don't know, and believe me, we want to know.  When there are a lot of monarchs around Cape May Point, especially when it's getting chilly at night, monarchs often cluster together overnight.  We spend a lot of time wandering around Cape May Point during the late afternoon, and so far this year we haven't found any big roosts.  We know a lot of places where they have roosted in previous years, and we check those spots, but the monarchs frequently fool us.  We need your help!  If you're in Cape May Point and see big roosts of monarchs, please let us know!  The simplest way is to just call the CMBO Northwood Center at (609) 884-2736, but you can also send an e-mail message to the CMBO Monarch Monitoring Project via

Can I bring monarchs to you for tagging or ship them to you from further north to help them on their migrations?

We hear this fairly often and the answer is an emphatic NO!  Monarchs have evolved to migrate from all over the eastern ⅔ of the US and from southern Canada down to the overwintering areas in Mexico.  Leave them where you find them!  They instinctively know how to migrate.  Bringing them to Cape May might not be that much of a favor, as the Delaware Bay crossing is potentially quite hazardous to monarchs.  Many migrating from areas to our north might otherwise travel west of Delaware Bay and avoid the long water crossing altogether.  Trust that monarchs know how to migrate.  And we don't need extra monarchs brought to us for tagging purposes, we have plenty that find their way to Cape May Point, thank you.

I want to tag monarchs, can you give me some tags?

No, sorry.  We don't make the tags, we buy them, and we buy only as many as we think our staff and volunteers will use (that's Julia Druce, 2012 Field Naturalist, with a tagged monarch at left).  If you want to tag monarchs, you can order tags from Monarch Watch at

Can we help you tag monarchs at Cape May Point?

We have an experienced team tagging monarchs in Cape May Point, and we don't need more help here, but we do need help tagging monarchs in other parts of Cape May County, north of the Cape May Canal, as part of our new Monarch Ambassador program.  Our trainings are finished for 2015, but we will hold more Monarch Ambassador trainings in August and September of 2016.  Come to one of the training sessions and then help expand our understanding of monarch migration through the entire Cape May peninsula by counting and tagging monarchs at locations such as Villas, Stone Harbor, Strathmere, Reeds Beach, and in southeastern Cumberland County.  And we do provide a limited number of tags to those who volunteer as Monarch Ambassadors.

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