Birds and Wildlife

Monarch butterfly project

It wasn’t that long ago that our members recall seeing thousand of Monarch butterflies stopping on Long Beach Island to feed and rest during their migration to Mexico.

In recent years, however, their scarcity has been not only notable, but alarming.

The Birds and Wildlife Committee did a little research and found that butterfly decline is not limited to just LBI: Monarch numbers have dropped ninety percent in the last twenty years and this black and orange beauty is now facing extinction. The reason? Pesticides, herbicides and loss of habitat.

So this year, once again, the Club has taken the Monarch butterfly under our wing–so to speak!

In June we placed ten large containers up and down the island filled with nectar flowers to attract Monarchs and three types of milkweed,the only plant on which females will lay their eggs. Each pot also had information on how to raise Monarchs in our own backyards and gardens and warnings against using chemicals.

The campaign was designed to be primarily educational and we didn’t expect to harvest many eggs from busy street corners and sidewalks. But, we quickly learned that if you plant it–milkweed–they will come.

Our volunteers were busy all summer picking up eggs and larvae from Beach Haven to Barnegat Light to hand-raise. One pot, at the Surf City Library, had caterpillars almost every day and just one nursery has released 24 Monarchs so far!

We’re so encouraged that this fall we’ll be planting a butterfly garden in Barnegat Light hoping to increase our numbers. Thank you and congratulations to all who participated.

Photos: Teresa Hagan

Attracting Monarchs to your garden…

Here are just a few of the local plants that will draw adult Monarchs to your garden. (Roll your cursor over each image to see its caption. Click on any image to enlarge it and start an interactive slide show.)