The average hourly count of migrating monarch butterflies through Cape May Point increased to about 95 this year from about 15 last year, according to the Monarch Monitoring Project.

“It certainly was encouraging to see numbers higher than the last four lean years,” Project Director Mark Garland said.

Counts are performed at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. by an intern driving the same 5-mile route in and around Cape May Point from early September to the end of October. The project is a program of New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory.

While the numbers rebounded strongly from recent years, they were still just about half that of 2012, when an average of about 183 were spotted per hour.

There were so many monarchs migrating in week 9 of the count — the last week in October — that the project decided to continue it an extra week into November, for the first time ever.

Thousands of monarchs were seen roosting in trees along Cape May Point beach in late October.

Pollinator garden opens in Middle Township

The Middle Township Environmental Commission worked with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ to create a pollinator meadow at the Ockie Wisting Recreation Complex in the township, the foundation said last week.

The complex was officially opened in the end of October and will have playing fields, a playground and a wooded trail that leads to a lake and fishing pier, the CWF said.

With funding from Atlantic City Electric, volunteers planted 138 native perennials. Next spring and summer, there will be plants for bees, butterflies and birds to use for food and habitat.

The meadow will be great for wildlife and won’t have to be mowed, the CWF said.

Some of the plants chosen were common milkweed, which is used by the monarch butterfly as its larval food plant; various asters, which provide nectar to migrating butterflies in the fall as well as to other pollinators; Cardinal Flower and Scarlet Bee balm (Monarda), favorites of hummingbirds; and purple coneflowers, which feed pollinators in midsummer.

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Middle Township Gazette reporter. Call me anytime you have news for the paper or the website. 609-365-6176