Monarch Migration on Virginia's Eastern Shore

In this video you will hear from Michael Ferrara, CVWO's monarch biologist, who will share insights into the unique geographic feature of the peninsula of the Eastern Shore of Virginia and how this super highway for monarch and raptor migration provides tremendous opportunities for CVWO, scientists and the public to encounter the butterfly and hawk migration in the fall.

butterfly research

Why It's Important

Observatory volunteers help manage butterfly gardens at Kiptopeke State Park, at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge, at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden, and at Jamestown Marina. The observatory participates in the annual July Delmarva Tip Butterfly Count that is sponsored by the North American Butterfly Association (NABA). In 1998 it established a Monarch Butterfly Migration Program that conducts fall surveys and tags Monarchs. Monarch numbers are declining at an alarming rate, due to a variety of factors. Several tagged Monarchs have later been found at their winter roost sites near Mexico City.


Monarch Watch

Journey North

Monarch Joint Venture

CVWO Monarch biologist, Michael Ferrara tags a Monarch for the video, featured at the top of this pa

CVWO Monarch biologist, Michael Ferrara tags a Monarch for the video, featured at the top of this pa


The following is a list of 101 species confirmed by Observatory staff and volunteers. Rare species are marked with *. Checklists by city and county can be found at

If anyone documents rare species or any not on this list, please contact Brian Taber at

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CVWO's Butterfly Brochure and Poster

CVWO's Butterfly Poster

A new butterfly brochure was produced in 2019 listing butterflies of Virginia's Coastal Plain. It included 16 species shown life-sized in full color. Two thousand copies were distributed to area school systems.

Download PDF

How to create a butterfly garden

What To Plant

For more than 20 years, the Observatory has created and managed butterfly gardens for research, conservation and the enjoyment of visitors. If you would like to create your own butterfly garden, even a small one is helpful to many species. It just takes a sunny spot. Though garden centers have many good varieties, from our experience, here are some top butterfly garden plants that thrive in southeastern Virginia and are not particularly attractive to hungry deer:

Joe-Pye Weed ( Eutrochium dubium )

Bergamot ( many varieties of monarda )

Boneset ( Eupatorium perfoliatum )

Cup Plant ( Silphium perfoliatum )

Mist Flower ( Conoclinium coelestinum )

Mountain Mint ( Pycnanthemum muticum )

New York Aster ( Symphyotrichum novi-belgii )

Coreopsis (many varieties of coreopsis )

Goldenrod ( many varities of Solidago )

Butterfly Weed (many varieties of asclepias)

Lantana, not native, ( Lantana camara 'Miss Huff' )

Butterfly Bush, not native ( many varieties of Buddleia )

Abelia, not native ( Abelia grandiflora )



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