Monarch butterflies are a sight to behold, and they make New Jersey a stop on their fall migration to Mexico.
If you haven’t had a chance to see them fluttering about yet this year, it may not be too late.
While you likely won’t see the big numbers from early October, there are still many hanging around areas in Cape May, Stone Harbor and Maurice River Township. Your best chance catching a glimpse of these orange and black beauties is feeding on goldenrods nestled in dunes along the Atlantic Ocean or along the shorelines of the Delaware Bay. Warmer weather will increase your chances of seeing them, and once freezing temperatures are here to stay for the season, they’ll be gone.
According to the New Jersey Audubon Society, the three or four generations of monarchs which emerge each summer are considered non-migratory, and only live two to five weeks. These adult monarchs are responsible for mating and laying eggs to parent the next generation of monarchs.
However, the last generation of the year — known as the migratory monarchs — behave quite differently. These monarchs, which emerge in the fall, delay their reproduction to migrate and overwinter in Mexico, a journey which is hundreds if not thousands of miles. These monarchs will live six to nine months, and reawaken in the spring to mate and lay eggs as they migrate north.
The New Jersey Audubon Society hosts the Monarch Monitoring Project in which a census of monarchs is recorded daily from the beginning of September through the end of October to track the number of monarchs along the fall migration route. Numerous monarchs are also tagged with identification codes and, if recovered, demonstrate how far some of these monarchs travel.
For more information, visit the New Jersey Audubon Society’s Cape May Monarchs Facebook page, monarchwatch.org, or the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s “New Jersey Monarch Butterfly Conservation Guide.”
Click on the photo gallery below to view more images.
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Lori M. Nichols may be reached at [email protected]. Follow Lori on Instagram at @photog_lori.