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Monarchs highlight of September Butterfly Garden Tours

By On Deck Staff

Monarchs highlight of September Butterfly Garden Tours
As fall approaches, Monarch butterflies are migrating south through Cape May County in large numbers. Many are stopping to nectar in the many butterfly gardens sprinkled throughout the county, according to Patricia Sutton, coauthor, along with her husband Clay, of the book “How to Spot Butterflies.”
This month, Sept. 12-14, Sutton will offer her final Private Butterfly Garden Tours of the year. This opportunity to see 22 gorgeous butterfly and flower-filled gardens throughout the county from Cape May Point north to Dennisville should not be missed.
Friday’s tour on Sept. 12 will visit gardens from North Cape May to Rio Grande. Saturday’s tour, Sept. 13, will feature gardens from Goshen to Dennisville and Eldora, including Sutton’s own garden. The final tour on Sunday, Sept. 14, focuses on gardens in and near Cape May Point and Cape May City.
The brilliant orange and black insects have been migrating through the county since early August. The Suttons tallied 40 in three hours on Aug. 4 as one-by-one they came flapping down the dune line at Cape May Point State Park.
Cape May County’s summer Monarchs are not migrating yet, but still laying eggs on plentiful patches of milkweed in nearly all the gardens included in the tours.
Expect Sutton and the 22 friendly gardeners to show off Monarch eggs, caterpillars, and perhaps an early Monarch chrysalis. Along with the plentiful Monarchs, at least 20 other species of butterflies will be nectaring in the gardens as well, perhaps along with a late ruby-throated hummingbird or two.
Pat Sutton is a longtime naturalist, the former program director for the Cape May Bird Observatory, and an enthusiastic wildlife gardener. Her tours begin at 10 a.m. and conclude at 3:30 p.m. each day. The fee per day is $35, $25 for New Jersey Audubon Society members. Discounted weekend tour packages are available at $60 for members and $90 for nonmembers.
Participants are asked to bring a lunch since the group will eat in one of the gardens. Before the tours, download, print, and bring along (for ease of note taking) New Jersey Audubon’s articles “How to Create a Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden” and the “Recommended Plantings to Attract Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and Moths,” at: njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat/ButterHummGarden.html and njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat/KeyPlants.html
Participation is limited to 25 per day. Call the nature center at 898-8848 to reserve your spot and get further details. Friday and Sunday participants are asked to meet at the Nature Center of Cape May, 1600 Delaware Ave. The Saturday tour will begin at the Cape May Bird Observatory, 600 Rt. 47 North, near Goshen.

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