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Monarch Ambassadors: Helping to Answer the Questions

by by Sue Slotterback, Environmental Educator

Monarch Ambassadors Julie McNulty and Lynn Matthews tag a Monarch butterfly and record data

Monarch Ambassadors Julie McNulty and Lynn Matthews tag a Monarch butterfly and record data

For several years the headlines have touted the Monarch population is in decline from a series of devastating events and practices. And that’s true for most of the Midwest; however, the news isn’t as dire here on the East Coast according to the Monarch Monitoring Project (MMP) in Cape May. For over 25 years, MMP has been tagging thousands of Monarchs, educating hundreds of people through public tagging demonstrations, and conducting a census of Monarchs three times a day from September 1 to October 31. When asked about the population: the word is ‘steady’. MMP points to the lack of factory farms, the increase in backyard habitats, and the public’s enthusiasm to plant milkweeds, to provide nectar plants, and to learn more about these amazing insects as major contributors to their population status.

To better answer questions about Cape May’s specific role in the East Coast migration of Monarchs, in 2015, MMP trained a group of Monarch Ambassadors in East Point and Stone Harbor. Happy to join in partnership with MMP to monitor Stone Harbor, The Wetlands Institute (TWI) has Monarch Ambassadors with ears to the ground waiting to hear what the butterflies are doing, fielding questions on their life cycle and migration, and awaiting news of them streaming through the area. While wandering local roosting areas, tagging butterflies with colored tags, Ambassadors are available to answer questions about the Monarchs. TWI Monarch Ambassadors have currently tagged 45 Monarchs, but with a goal of 300 Monarch tagged, we are still looking for a few good taggers to join our corps of Monarch Ambassadors in 2017. If interested, please contact Sue Slotterback at sslotterback@wetlandsinstitute.org.

Monarch Ambassador releasing a tagged butterfly in the Institute’s gardens

Monarch Ambassador releasing a tagged butterfly in the Institute’s gardens

If you would like to help Monarchs by planting milkweed and nectar plants, keep an eye out for the Institutes native plant sale next May.