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.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Saturday looks promising

Good numbers of monarchs were seen around Cape May Point today, with a roost of about 400 gathering near the intersection of Harvard and Lehigh Avenues and smaller roosts nearby (and perhaps larger roosts elsewhere that we didn't find).  Saturday's weather forecasts suggests that many of these monarchs may stay at the Point and others may continue to arrive from the north.  Storms are due to arrive on Sunday however, which makes this look like a poor day for monarch viewing.  We really can't guess whether the days following the storms will bring more monarchs or not; the migration season will surely be ending soon.

Monarch joining the roost at Harvard & Lehigh
Seaside goldenrod has been the preferred nectar source for monarchs at Cape May Point for most of of October, but many of the goldenrods are past bloom now.  Monarchs are visiting the ones that remain in bloom, but many are returning to private gardens, where annual flowers are now providing much of the nectar needed by the butterflies.

Monarch at one of the few seaside goldenrods that are still in bloom.
Monarch nectarine on marigold
Most of the monarch action remains in the areas of Cape May Point closest to the beach and the dunes, though observers did note many monarchs moving south along the Delaware Bay shore.  Many monarchs started to gather in roosts quite early in the day, more than four hours before sunset, even though the day was rather warm.  Perhaps as we get later into the year the urge to gather into communal roosts is growing stronger.

Monarchs gathering atop an eastern red cedar at mid-afternoon.
Since monarchs are still around, our field naturalists are offering bonus tagging demos this weekend.  Join Rebecca and Stephanie at 12 noon on Saturday or Sunday at the East Shelter in Cape May Point State Park for a short talk on monarch biology and conservation, followed by a demonstration of the tagging that's a big part of our project.  We hope to see many of you at one of this weekend's programs.

Monarch resting on poison ivy leaf.


  1. I am in Hillsborough nj, Central NJ, and saw only one Monarch lingering in the garden. We are losing our nectar resources for them, even though temperatures are not cold