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.
We have been experiencing winds from the south and southwest for several days now, winds that don't usually bring many monarchs into Cape May. We're not without monarchs, visitors have seen a few flying over the streets of Cape May Point and past the hawkwatch every day, and some are found settled into the town gardens. The best viewing continues to be on the seaside goldenrod flowers found along the dunes and on the upper beach at Cape May Point. If you go looking for monarchs in these areas, please stay on the paths or the section of higher beach where no plants are growing. The goldenrods and associated plants play a vital role in the protection of the dunes, and the dunes protect the town from storm surges and extreme high tides. Entering the vegetated area of the upper beach and dune can cause erosion that can lead to failure of the dunes. Happily, there are usually plenty of monarchs to see and enjoy right along the paths. Once the wind shifts, and the forecast suggests that this might happen on Tuesday, we expect to see the numbers of monarchs surging again.
Monarch on seaside goldenrod
While we haven't been seeing big concentrations of monarchs, we continue to have big audiences for our tagging demos, often in excess of 100 people. We love sharing information about monarch butterflies, and we hope that many of you will join us again next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday when we have our next tagging demos. We meet at 2 pm at the East Shelter of Cape May Point State Park. On Mondays through Thursdays we offer less formal programs at 1 pm in the Triangle Park in Cape May Point.
Tagging demo at Cape May Point State Park
Our team continues to tag dozens of monarch butterflies, so it seems like a good time to remind everyone about what to do if you find a tagged monarch. You need to be able to read the 3-letter, 3-number code on the bottom line of the tag; in the photo below, the tag code is XAY 578. To better read the code on a photo, underexpose your photo -- make it darker than the meter wants. That way the tag will be easier to read, since it's lighter in color than the monarch or the background. The tag also includes an e-mail address and a toll-free number, and you can report the tagged monarch either way. Be sure to include your contact information, date and time of your sighting, and the location. Better yet, the folks at Monarch Watch encourage reports via this website: Online monarch reports. We always hope that many of the monarchs that we tag will be sighted and reported.