GMG reader Hannah writes, 

Hi, I wanted to get this to Kim Smith. I have seen her posts about the migration and how they were not as many this summer. I found this beautiful frozen/starved monarch butterfly on Niles Beach two days ago and I am wondering if anyone knows how I could preserve this? It still has a little sand on it–too afraid to brush it off. Thanks!

Thank you for writing Hannah. That looks like a very wind and weather worn Monarch. I wonder how far it traveled to reach our shores. The easiest way to preserve your Monarch is to store it in a shadow box, which can be purchased at Target, Ikea, and Michaels. West Elm has some very nice linen-lined ones. The main thing is to keep it out of the sun or the wing color will fade. Folks used to tuck butterfly specimens away in cupboards with little drawers and compartments, to look at on occasion, but that can bring mice. The shadow boxes are so much nicer!

Your Monarch is clearly dead however I would like to make folks aware that sometimes butterflies appear frozen or dead but they are actually quite alive. A butterflies wings don’t work very well until they are thoroughly warmed. If you see a butterfly early in the morning, either lying on the ground or attached to a plant such as Seaside Goldenrod, it is probably simply waiting for the sun to rise and is best left undisturbed.

Also, as for the sand grains, you can remove those with a few gentle pumps of a bulb syringe or a photographer’s air blaster.



  • I saw a live Monarch butterfly a little over a week ago. I was walking in the area of the golf course (along Moorland) with my dog and she was nosing among some shrubs and out came a Monarch. I was surprised to see one at this late date. It didn’t look “well”, as it flew out looking pretty weak but it kept going. Is it usual for Monarchs to be on Cape Ann this late (that is, just over a week ago)?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing that information Linda. It is unusual, but not unheard of to see a few late stragglers. The latest one that I have documented was on election day 2008, which fell on November 4th. I call him the Obama Monarch. He was in our garden, very healthy, and nectaring heartily. It would be easy to imagine that our Obama Monarch made it to Mexico. That year there were many more more Monarchs in our region than compared to this year.


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