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Monarch Midday Update 9.26.19

Winds switched around the the south-southwest today, and as expected, movement of monarchs around Cape May Point has stalled out.  The last two days brought us winds from northerly directions, and monarchs were clearly on the move, but the wind speed and direction were ideal for monarch movements, and most seemed to cruise right over Cape May and continue on to Delaware.  For an hour or two on Wednesday afternoon it seemed that many were dropping onto the beach and into the dunes, but then they lifted off again and headed out over the Bay.  That’s good news for the monarchs, of course, they’ve got a long way to go, but we feel a slight twinge of disappointment that more didn’t stop over here.

We’re not without monarchs today, of course, as a small percentage did stop over.  It’s a rare day indeed when there aren’t some monarchs in Cape May Point during September and October.  We’re not seeing many in the air, but certain wildflowers and gardens have good numbers of monarchs feeding.  The native sunflowers in Cape May Point State Park are once again a hotspot — an especially good area is along the park’s yellow trail, where several dozen have been nectaring on a big patch of the native Helianthus gigantea.  We tagged a few here, and many had very little fat reserves, so they needed to feed.  Our best guess is that most monarchs arrived in Cape May on Tuesday and Wednesday with good fuel reserves and didn’t need to stop, but those with low fat have stopped and are currently refueling.

Winds are predicted to blow from the south or the east for the next few days, and those winds typically don’t bring many monarchs to Cape May, but as we always point out, all of our predictions are just slightly better than wild guesses, the monarchs don’t tell us when they plan to come visit.  So we will be out in the field every day, conducting censuses, tagging monarchs, and sharing the wonder and joy of monarch migration with anyone who will listen.

Female monarch sips sunflower nectar
Female monarch sips sunflower nectar
Male monarch at wild sunflower
Male monarch at wild sunflower
New Jersey Audubon