Avalon’s design of a Monarch Butterfly Habitat

The Borough of Avalon is implementing a new Monarch Butterfly Habitat Project at Armacost Park in the community.  The habitat will be located on the northwest corner of the park where a mowed lawn exists.   The project is intended to provide a location for migratory pollinators and birds to stop during migration and help rebound the numbers of important pollinators including Monarch Butterflies on the east coast of the United States.

“This Monarch Butterfly Habitat project will be an integral part of Avalon’s stewardship of our natural environment and provide an important educational piece for local property owners to consider for incorporation into their own landscapes”, said Avalon Mayor Martin Pagliughi.  “This project has been enthusiastically embraced by Avalon’s important environmental partners and we are excited to begin the discussion in our region of the importance of pollinators to our overall sustainable ecosystem”.

The habitat will include approximately 20 herbaceous perennials and woody species that will provide an attractive location for the pollinators.  Some of the pollinators intended for planting include purple coneflower, cardinal flower, switchgrass, golden alexanders, and seaside goldenrod.  Woody species include eastern red cedar, elderberry, and beach plum.  The area will include an educational, interpretive sign and an accessible viewing area for the public to learn how these pollinators contribute to the natural environment.

Mayor Pagliughi and Dr. David LaPuma, Director of the New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory began exploring the possibility of a Monarch Butterfly habitat in July, 2016.  The habitat will be created by the Avalon Department of Public Works and a landscaper, and will be maintained by the Borough.  The plant species utilized will provide a nesting area as well as protein-rich pollen and carbohydrate-rich nectar which are both critical food resources for a variety of resident and migratory pollinator species, including the Monarch Butterfly.  Avalon and Cape May County have long been known as a “stopover” site for migratory species before their trek across the Delaware Bay.  The journey of a Monarch Butterfly extends to Mexico, approximately 2,000 miles away.

Christine Davis, Endangered and Non-game Species Program/NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, Kerry Pflugh, Director of the Office of Local Government Assistance/NJDEP, and Dr. LaPuma spoke in support of the habitat during the presentation at the Wednesday, October 11th meeting of the Avalon Borough Council. “I want to congratulate the Borough on this habitat, which is beautifully designed and crucial for migratory birds and pollinators”, LaPuma said.  “This is truly a showcase for Avalon and for Cape May County and will provide critical assistance with food resources for pollinators, which are in decline”.

The Avalon Monarch Butterfly Habitat was designed by Scott Taylor from Taylor Design Group, Inc. of Marlton, New Jersey.  The habitat will be located on property that is preserved for open space courtesy of the Cape May County Open Space Program.  This habitat will provide an exceptional educational opportunity for students and property owners throughout Cape May County.