Thinking of migrating to the beach this fall? The end of the summer season does not mean the end of fun and excitement in Cape May. As the days get cooler and the foliage gets warmer, America’s First Seaside Resort becomes a flutter of activity. The red and orange colors that take over the island in the fall are not just the changing leaves; take a second look and you will see dozens of Monarch Butterflies making a stop here in Cape May as they get ready to cross the Delaware Bay and head south for the winter.
The Monarch Monitoring Project was established in Cape May in 1990 to track the migration of Monarch Butterflies as they make their journey along the Atlantic Coastline. In 1991 a census was established where butterflies were carefully tagged and followed to mark their migration pattern. After years of hard work tagging and tracking butterflies, the project’s original hypothesis was proved to be correct in 1998 when seven of the butterflies tagged in Cape May were discovered in El Rosario, Mexico. The census continues to be conducted every year, between September 1 and October 31. Three times a day, an observer from the project travels along a five mile route, counting the number of butterflies floating through the island. This route consists of forests, fields, beaches, dunes, brackish swampland, and even residential neighborhoods in Cape May.
The geographical location of Cape May is the ideal spot for butterflies to rest before making their journey across the Bay. It is also the perfect location for observers to enjoy a weekend getaway, see these beautiful creatures, and take part in the tagging process. Informational sessions are held at Cape May Point State Park where visitors can help tag the butterflies that may be found hundreds of miles away, just 24 hours after they leave the southern tip of New Jersey. The butterflies have even started to perch themselves in the fields of Beach Plum Farm and its surrounding protected Wetlands.
While some may think that the end of August marks beginning of the post-summertime blues, Cape May continues to be full of hidden gems throughout the year. Whether you come for an extended stay or are just passing through on your way to warmer climates, Cape May continues to offer the ideal retreat.