"Butterly Gathering" Pismo Beach Butterly Preserve, by Stephanie Hogue

“Latitudes is about the places you love.”

It was a great year for the monarch butterflies in California this season! The numbers were way up in California compared to recent years.

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For decades, the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count has been cataloging the rapid decline of one of North America’s most enigmatic butterflies. In a surprising and remarkable outcome, this winter brought a final tally of 247, 237 monarch butterflies observed across the West, an over 100-fold increase from the previous year’s total of less than 2,000 monarchs and the highest total since 2016.“We’re ecstatic with the results and hope this trend continues,” says Emma Pelton, the Western Monarch Lead with the Xerces Society. “There are so many environmental factors at play across their range that there’s no single cause or definitive answer for this year’s uptick, but hopefully it means we still have time to protect this species.”


The place... Pismo Beach Butterfly Preserve

The Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove is one of only five sites in the state that has counts of over 10,000 butterflies annually. Each year thousands of vibrant orange and black Monarch Butterflies flock to Pismo State Beach, a location essential to their successful migration, seeking shelter from the freezing northern winters. From late October to February, the butterflies cluster in the limbs of towering, majestic Eucalyptus trees flanking a riparian estuary that flows to the Pacific Ocean. The grove is easily accessible from CA State Highway 1 at the south boundary of the city limits of Pismo Beach.


Fun Facts..

  • There are almost 20,000 butterfly species.
  • Butterflies survive on a liquid diet only. 
  • Butterflies taste with their feet.
  • Butterflies can see colors that humans can’t.
  • Butterflies have four wings, not two.
  • The lifecycle of a butterfly is in four stages: egg, caterpillar, pupa and adult butterfly.
  • Butterflies need heat to be able to move. When you see them resting in the sunshine, they are warming up their wings so they can fly.
  • A group of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope

Monarch butterflies prefer to gather together at night high up in the trees. This cluster of monarch butterflies is termed a roost. This behavior of monarchs is considered to be anti-predatory activity. This is because at night when the temperature drops, monarchs face a sharp drop in their body temperature. With a temperature drop, they become vulnerable to their predators and staying together helps to ensure their safety.

How to help...

We can all help by planting and preserving habitats for the pollinators!
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