Speaking of fall, have you seen any monarch butterflies lately? Monarchs are amazing – they travel as much as 3,000 miles, making them the butterflies with the longest migration in the world and the only butterflies to make a long migration twice each year. Monarch butterflies migrate through New York City on their way to Mexico every fall and come back every spring. Peak season for them passing through New York City is early October, so you may have missed them for this year, but here is some information about monarchs anyway. Keep an eye out as there may still be some around, or wait for spring to see them again!
Monarch Watch is a hub for all things monarch. It has amazing resources, including the following:
- Information on how to start a garden that attracts migrating monarchs, and a $16 seed kit to get you started
- The biology of monarchs
- Multimedia gallery with photos and more
- Important butterfly vocabulary
- Reading lists for you and your students
- Information about peak migration to find out when monarchs will get to you as well as fall and spring migration maps
- Research projects that need student help allowing your class to become citizen scientists
- Other classroom resources for sale, like nets, posters, and a nectar kit
Some of these resources may be a little old for early childhood, but the gardening and observation element is ideal for all ages. Butterflies are great for teaching about habitat, insect life cycles, and animal diversity.
Another great website out there is the Monarch Monitoring Project, produced by the New Jersey Audubon Department. Cape May, NJ is the southernmost point in Jersey. It has well maintained marshes and dunes and is along the coast, so it attracts huge numbers of migratory birds and monarchs, too! The blog is great for upper elementary students. It features bar graphs of monarchs spotted each week during migration season, beautiful photographs, and lots of scientific information.
Do you know other monarch resources? What’s your favorite monarch observation spot in New York City?