Cape May Point Monarchs

Posted 10/01/05
by Jane Kashlak

CAPE MAY, N.J.– I got a call the other day about 5 o'clock in the afternoon from my friend Bev.

"Did you hear??" she asked, "There's a monarch roost at the Point!"

When you live in Cape May year round, your world is defined by what's passing through at any given time - whether it's hawks or tourists or Monarch butterflies.

Late September - early October is prime Monarch season. Hundreds of thousands of the bright orange butterflies make a pit stop in Cape May every year, on their way to Mexico. We just never know when that pit stop will occur.

It happened this week.

When I got to Lincoln Ave. in Cape May Point, I saw what looked like dozens, hundreds, of dried up leaves hanging limply from trees.

On closer inspection, those "leaves" turned out to be Monarchs in sleeping mode...bunking down for the night on protected cedars and pines.

Another monarch enthusiast already on the scene, Dawn from Lancaster, PA, pointed me towards another monarch "roost" on Knox Ave.

I jumped back into the pick up truck and found even more monarchs (and monarch enthusiasts) at the second location. The word was traveling fast.

Up on the Stites Ave. beach overlook, you could see the monarchs zig zagging one by one along the top of the dune, instinctively heading south.

Although they seemed to be traveling alone, they all ended up in the same place at nightfall.

The next morning, before sunrise, I picked up monarch maven Ro and turned the pick up truck back to Knox Ave.

We weren't going to miss thousands of Monarch butterflies waking up and taking flight.

When we got there, monarchs covered every tree branch in sight.

As they woke, they did a little wiggle and shake, warming themselves and getting ready for the long flight to Mexico.

We waved them off.

Next summer, perhaps their great grandchildren would be making the same trip through Cape May.



Related Info..

Monarch Tagging Demo
Join Louise Zemaitis and her Monarch Monitoring Project team and learn about the Monarch migration through Cape May. Meet at Cape May Point State Park at the East Shelter. 2 to 2:30PM, Mon., Wed., Fri., Sat., Sun. Free



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