Monarch Caterpillars: Numbers in Gardens this late Summer and Fall (2016)

sm-monarch-chrysalis-in-virginiarettiggdn-9-25-16001-sigHi Gang,

I have been traveling a lot and so am tardy in sharing some very good news.  I’ve heard from wildlife gardeners near and far that their milkweed patches have been discovered by egg-laying Monarchs.  Caterpillars are still being found, lots of caterpillars!  Chrysalises too, like the one above that I enjoyed today in Virginia Rettig’s lovely North Cape May wildlife garden!

Today I stopped at the West Cape May Elementary School to see their “Schoolyard Habitat” and was thrilled to find their thriving Common Milkweed patch with at least 5 Monarch chrysalises on the brick school and in under steps of wooden ladders placed near the garden (for just that purpose — a safe spot off the beaten path).  Hopefully more and more schools will create and utilize outdoor wildlife gardens like this to connect students with the natural world.

Display at CMBO Northwood Center on 9-25-16

I also stopped by the Cape May Bird Observatory’s Northwood Center (701 E. Lake Drive, Cape May Point, NJ) and was dazzled by their Monarch Migration display and by their terrariums full of hungry caterpillars and chrysalises!

Don’t miss the Cape May Monarch Monitoring Project’s fun opportunities to learn about Monarchs this fall:


Fridays: Sept. 23, 30, and Oct. 7

10:00 to 10:15 a.m.

At the CMBO Northwood Center (701 E. Lake Drive, Cape May Point, NJ) .  Free.


Every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, & Wednesday

Sept. 14 through October 16  (weather permitting)

2:00 to 2:45 p.m.

Meets at Cape May Point State Park at the East Shelter, the picnic pavilion next to the Hawkwatch Platform.  No preregistration required.  Family-friendly.  FREE.

Full details about these and other programs can be found in CMBO’s Kestrel Express.

To keep your finger on the pulse of the Monarch migration through Cape May this fall, go to the Monarch Monitoring Project BLOG.

As many of you know I have written many posts about Monarchs and Milkweeds for “Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens.”  I’d love to share the links with you here so that you can do more reading, but sadly that lovely website is no longer.


3 Replies to “Monarch Caterpillars: Numbers in Gardens this late Summer and Fall (2016)”

  1. Hi, thank you for sharing! I am so excited. Not only for Monarch’s, but for other wildlife in need of help. Maybe the Monatch projects will open people’s eyes to the rest of our wildlife in desperate need of help. I’m going to talk to my daughters school and see if they will allow the students to have a Monarch garden at their school. Thanks to you and everyone else working so hard to help our Monarch’s, butterflies in general and nature!

    1. Maryann, Good luck with your daughter’s school. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if schools across the nation had “Schoolyard Habitats” and “Monarch Waystations!”

  2. My stand of common milkweed started off with 3 plants, four years ago. Had a few caterpillars.
    Has spread to around 50 plants now. Few monarchs last year. This year, maybe only 4 monarchs, but I’ve brought in 25 caterpillars in the last two days. Deadheading “chocolate cake” plants like crazy for many blooms needed in a few weeks. May release at our nursery down the street for sustenance on their first leg. (Lots of nectar plants in bloom there.)

    Tried cutting back 3/4 of milkweed after bloom this year. Re-leafed with new softer leaves. These new leaves are the ones hosting the eggs laid. They grew back beautifully. Thank you, Douglas Tallamy, for the suggestion.

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