Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October Is Monarch Migration

October is the peak month for monarch butterfly migration, and along New Jersey's coastline there is a good chance of spotting these long-distance flyers. They migrate over 2,000 miles to the forests of central Mexico.

But the monarch population has declined tremendously - down 95% from the mid-1990s - mostly due to widespread loss of milkweed plants. The milkweed plant's leaves are the only food source for monarch caterpillars. Many people believe the monarch needs to be placed on the U.S. Endangered Species List.

Along the coast, you might see the monarchs on goldenrod flowers or roosting in Eastern red cedars, although their routes are highly affected by winds.

Cape May is a key point on their migration route. As with many birds, they use the tip of the state as a food stop before their next long flight. In the monarchs' case, it is a southern route over the Delaware that they need to power up for on this two month journey.

 New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory hosts the Monarch Monitoring Project which covers much of the tip and conducts counts at Stone Harbor Point and East Point on the Delaware Bay - see www.monarchmonitoringproject.com

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