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Friday, April 12, 2024

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Plants to Attract Cape May’s Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterfly

By Rachel Shubin

The gold and black colors make monarch butterflies an iconic and well-known insect in America.
Cape May County is known for being a hotspot for monarch butterflies. Cape May is a stopover point for the 3,000 miles the butterflies travel from Canada to Mexico for the winter. The height of the season is September and October, the best time to see monarchs in the area.
The New Jersey Audubon has a Monarch Monitoring Project, a research and educational program which helps keep track of the migration
Tagging the butterflies is an important part of the MMP and demonstrations are given to spectators.
According to the New Jersey Audubon, “butterfly nets are used to capture monarchs. Data points are then collected including: length of forewing, wing condition, sex and fat content. Before placing the tag, a small patch of scales are removed so that the tag will adhere directly to the wing itself. The tag is an adhesive sticker that can be placed right in the spot prepared on the hindwing. Once the tag is placed, the butterfly is released to continue its migratory journey.”
The spring is the best time to fill your garden with plants that attract monarchs.
Milkweed (ascelpias) – a perennial flowering plant which provides great nectar for butterflies, bees and other nectar seeking insects. Milkweed is the larval food source for monarchs, as their caterpillars eat it and the butterflies lay their eggs there.
Milkweed grows best in sunny spots.
Goldenrod (asteraceae) – is a herbaceous perennial species of flower which grows best in the ful sun. Goldenrod is a fall blooming plant which provides monarchs with nectar while they are migrating south. Goldenrod  is also beneficial for many other insects.

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