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.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Monarchs in the rain

Monarchs were again seen in good numbers around Cape May Point on Saturday, roosting again at the same areas where they were seen on Friday night.  Rain arrived on Sunday morning before the monarchs had left the roost, and we had a lot of rain all day long, so the monarchs never left the roosts.  Every once in a while we saw one or two flying around, as if to test the air, only to settle back in.

We took these photos in the late afternoon.  Water was dripping off some of the monarchs, and most were completely motionless.  It's amazing that these butterflies are well adapted to withstand a rainy day, with raindrops beading up at the tip of the wing before dropping off.

Monday's forecast calls for rain ending around sunrise, followed by strong west winds at 20 to 25 mph, with high temperature in the mid-50s.  We doubt that the monarchs will head out across Delaware Bay in those winds, so we expect them to leave the roost once they begin to dry out and then search for nectar.

If you're coming to Cape May in search of monarchs on Monday, we suggest visiting areas where some flowers are still in bloom, especially areas that are out of the strongest winds.  There may be monarchs in sheltered pockets of seaside goldenrod near the beach, but we're guessing the more monarchs will be in the flower gardens scattered around Cape May Point.

Tuesday's forecast calls for northwest winds at 10 to 15 miles an hour, and if that forecast holds, we could watch our monarchs departing for Delaware.

We don't know if more monarchs are on their way to Cape May; we have seen recent reports of monarchs to our north, so there may still be some to arrive.  Last year we had a good numbers passing through on November 4, and perhaps that will be repeated this year.

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