Wildlife tours are timed to catch butterflies and gardens at their peak

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Bill Barlow / Naturalist Pat Sutton will lead a series of Wildlife Garden Tours through Sept. 26. Bill Barlow / Naturalist Pat Sutton will lead a series of Wildlife Garden Tours through Sept. 26.

Mid-July is peak butterfly season in terms of diversity and numbers, and Cape May County has more butterfly and hummingbird gardens than anywhere else in the country, according to the New Jersey Audubon Nature Center of Cape May. But it helps to know where to look.

Join local gardening naturalist and author Pat Sutton as she leads a series of private butterfly garden tours throughout Cape May County, beginning with her own garden Tuesday, July 16 on the North Tour, which encompasses Goshen to Dennisville.

On Wednesday, July 17, Sutton will lead the Mid-County Tour, from North Cape May to Rio Grande, and Thursday, July 18 will feature the South, or Cape Island tour.

The tours are designed to showcase native nectar plants, key caterpillar plants, diverse design ideas, and butterflies and hummingbirds in their habitats.

Tours run 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and cost $35 per tour for New Jersey Audubon members and $45 for nonmembers. Or join three tours for a discounted rate of $90 for members and $115 for nonmembers.

Preregistration is required, since tours are limited to the first 25 registrants. Discount rates may be available.

Sutton will lead a total of nine tours – three during selected weeks in July, August and September, concluding on Sept. 26.  Since gardens look completely different from month to month, doing all nine tours is recommended.

Before the tour, guests can download, print and bring along the New Jersey Audubon article “How to Create a Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden” and Sutton’s “Recommended Plantings to Attract Hummingbirds, Butterflies and Months” at http://www.njaudubon.org/SectionBackyardHabitat/CreateaGarden.aspx

For information visit the Nature Center of Cape May at 1600 Delaware Ave., Cape May or call 609-898-8848.

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