Update on the Monarch Butterflies

Beachy Keen decided that the monarch butterflies at Pismo Beach are too phenomenal to discuss just once.

So many pictures were taken; some great, some blurry (if you can imagine the insanity of chasing around a flying insect with your 18-55 mm lens). But here’s a favorite:

So graceful. Image by Avrah Baum.

So graceful. Image by Avrah Baum.

Now that it’s the second half of February, they’ve slowly begun leaving their colony in Pismo to head back up north, many to Canada. They travel in groups of thousands, and the Pismo Beach Monarch Grove is one of the largest in the nation, where about 25,000 monarchs have called home in the past 5 years. The monarch butterflies that come down to Pismo originate from west of the Rocky Mountains. The butterflies that migrate down from east of the Rockies fly all the way down to Mexico for the winter.

Justin Trabue, a student at California Polytechnic State, San Luis Obispo appreciates the rare opportunity to see monarch butterflies. “I’m from D.C., so I don’t get to see this at home,” Trabue said. “That’s why I think it’s so cool to be able to come here and see thousands and thousands of them in one place.”

Michael Chen and his wife, Tiffany Chen are tourists that enjoy observing the natural wildlife at the many places they’ve traveled to. They brought their own cameras, binoculars and tripods with them and set up along the wooden bar separating the grove from the walkway. “I could stand here all day and look at them,” Chen said. “We invest a lot of money in our equipment to take excellent pictures to show our family.”

You don’t need a fancy camera to experience the beauty of the grove. Just go, and enjoy a few peaceful minutes with nature without a gadget in hand. It does wonders for the soul.

There are still butterflies preparing for their journey, so if you hurry, you can still see them for the next couple of weeks when the skies are clear and the weather is warm. Although the weather along the Central Coast is a bit fickle, don’t be too discouraged if it isn’t a good day to see the butterflies…

The monarchs are keeping warm in clusters high up in the trees on foggy days. Image by Avrah Baum.

The monarchs can be seen keeping warm in clusters high up in the trees on foggy days. Image by Avrah Baum.

You can easily see them from your own window!

If you want to create a mini monarch grove of your own, David Coon, a docent with San Luis Obispo State Parks (Beachy Keen just loves this guy) has some advice. “They like to eat nectar from flowers. They don’t usually need to eat in the winter, but if you have any flowering plants, it’ll attract them to your yard.” Beachy Keen spots monarchs across California Polytechnic State University’s campus all the time!

Good luck spotting the monarchs as they migrate north, and don’t forget to pick up some potted flowers for your garden!

Stay tuned: Beachy Keen has crazy plans throughout the next few weeks. Get ready to see Santa Cruz, California and Monterey Bay!

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