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.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Programs Underway for 2016

Monarch numbers remain fairly modest around Cape May as we continue to wait for a good cold front to bring northwest winds and a major influx of migrating butterflies.  There are plenty of monarchs for our educational outreach programs however, which began yesterday with our first tagging demo.  We were delighted to speak to 81 people at the demo, and a very wide range of ages were represented within the audience.

Part of the audience for the year's first tagging demo, 9/14/16.

Our tagging demos begin with a talk for about ½ hour -- we discuss the monarch life cycle, trace their migrations, ponder conservation concerns, and describe the research and education objectives of our project.  As shown above, we share a lot of literature at the demos.  We then break into smaller groups and demonstrate how tags are applied to monarchs.  The coded tags help us learn about the speed and direction of monarch migration.

Field Naturalist Lindsey Brendel describes the monarch
life cycle to an enthusiastic audience.

Our tagging demos are held every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through October 16 at 2:00 pm.  No reservations are needed, just meet our team at the East Shelter at Cape May Point State Park, across the big parking lot from the Lighthouse.  There's no charge for the program, but donations are accepted.  We have several "thank you" gifts for donations, including monarch magnets, swamp milkweed seed packets, and the spectacular "Cape May Fall Flight" film on DVD.

Our first casual "drop-in" program was held this morning at 11:00 am.  We'll offer this informal program every day through October 19 at the Triangle Park, located at the junction of Lighthouse and Coral Avenues in Cape May Point.  Each day one or more members of our team will be at the park at 11:00, and visitors can see the team at work.  Often we'll be catching and tagging monarchs, and you can see the process close-up, but sometimes we'll be working on the garden or performing other tasks.  This program is cancelled if it's raining, as there is no shelter at the Triangle Park.  This program is also free and reservations are not taken, just drop in and visit for a few minutes.  Usually we only have a few visitors for this program -- today it was just three -- so it can be a great time to ask detailed questions and get a lot of personal attention from our team.  It's a short program, usually just 15 to 30 minutes.

The small but enthusiastic audience at today's Triangle Park drop-in program.

At the other extreme we have a full day study of monarchs scheduled as part of the Cape May Bird Observatory workshop program, to be held on Thursday, Sept. 22.  Spend the entire day with our project director Mark Garland and learn all about monarch biology and the activities of the Monarch Monitoring Project team.  You'll even learn how to tag monarchs.  Reservations are required for this program and a fee is charged; see the details and registration information here:

Mark Garland catches a monarch at the Hog Island Audubon Camp in Maine.

We've got one more program to offer this year, and it's a new program we're trying just 3 times, on Fridays from Sept. 23 through Oct. 7.  It's called the "Monarch Tank Talk," beginning at 10:00 am at the Cape May Bird Observatory Northwood Center in Cape May Point, and it's designed to give visitors a look at the tanks where we keep monarch caterpillars and chrysalides on display, with tips on how to properly care for these creatures if you want to try rearing some yourself.  There's no charge for this program nor are registrations accepted, just show up at the Center.

Monarch chrysalis in the display tank at the CMBO Northwood Center.

We hope that many monarch enthusiasts will join us for our programs in Cape May Point this fall.  If you've got questions about any of the programs you can comment to this blog post or send us an e-mail at


  1. Do they fly across the Delaware ?

  2. Yes they do, and then they continue south along the Atlantic seaboard to southern Georgia or northern Florida. From here they follow the Gulf Coast to Texas, and then a straight shot south to the Transvolcanic Mountain Range of Mexico, where they'll spend the winter.