February 6, 2012


Former Science Center Naturalist Beth Moore moved from New Hampshire to California in September 2011. She sent us this blog post about monarch butterflies.

I recently went to this incredible Eucalyptus Grove where thousands of monarch butterflies overwinter. This year they counted 23,000 Monarchs. Apparently this number is low compared to numbers that were reached over a decade ago (loss of milkweed habitat), but it was still impressive.Most of the butterflies are from western states. Butterflies from New Hampshire typically migrate to Mexico.

Here are some interesting butterfly facts:
  • California has the largest aggregation of migratory Monarch Butterflies in the US. Most years, the Pismo Beach Grove (where the pictures are taken) is the largest, but apparently there is one in Santa Barbara that is larger this year.
  • The coastal forests in California provide a similar micro-habitat to that that found in the mountains of Mexico. It is believed that this is what allows them to overwinter in California.
  • The adult butterflies eat nectar of various plants. Since many plants bloom in CA during winter, and the climate is mild, the butterflies can be quite active.

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