Monarch Monitoring Project - 10/6/08

Greetings all! Well, the monarchs are finally arriving in Cape May. This past weeks census had the highest numbers to date with 77.33 monarchs/hour. North west winds at the beginning of the week funneled large numbers of monarchs through Cape May! Although the numbers are not as spectacular as previous years, we at the MMP still hope that more monarchs are coming! Aside from the monarchs, Cape May had some other interesting visitors this week...


Yesterday, October 5, 2008, a Queen butterfly (Danaus glippus) was seen by many on West Lake Drive in Cape May Point. This was a female queen (see picture above) determined by markings and the fact that the butterfly was laying eggs. This butterfly is an extremely rare visitor to Cape May! The range of the queen butterfly is the southern united states into Central and South America. To find one up here is a strange but wonderful occurrence.

The queen hasn't been sited today, but it still may very well be hanging around Cape May Point. Keep your eyes open and your cameras ready!

*DISCLAIMER: Some naturalists suspect that this particular butterfly did not arrive in Cape May naturally. They are often available in butterfly kits and it is possible that it was let go at a recent wedding on the point. True or not, it was still very exciting to see a queen butterfly*

Northern Short-tailed Shrew!

The MMP had another interesting visitor today, thought this one was in the phylum Mammalia! Behold (above) the northern short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda). This little critter was running amok on the streets of Cape May point today when Dick Walton bravely captured it in his net! When I say bravely, I mean bravely! This little guy looks cute but he is actually poisonous! The Norhtern short-tailed shrew is one of the few poisonous mammals that exist. It uses it's toxic saliva to kill prey much larger than itself. Not a mammal that you want to mess with!
This shrew is common in our area but they nest underground and is usually difficult to find. We at the Monarch Monitoring Project consider ourselves lucky that we got to spend some time with this exciting mammal. After a tiny meal of worms (provided by Dick Walton), this little guy was sent back into the world. We all wish him luck!

Photo by Michael O'Brien

Tomorrow I will be posting a new "Insect of the Week" segment. This week will feature the Praying Mantis!

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