Pismo Grove Monarchs 2009 ~ B is for Butterfly

Welcome to a new round of ABC Wednesday hosted by Mrs. Nesbitt and Friends. Today we are on the letter B and my post is all about the Monarch Butterflies that overwinter at Pismo Beach, California.

Each year thousands of vibrant orange and black Monarch Butterflies flock to Pismo Beach, seeking shelter from the freezing northern winters. From late October to February, the butterflies cluster in the limbs of a grove of Eucalyptus trees at Pismo State Beach. The grove is easily accessible. It is located on State Highway 1 at the south boundary of the city limits of Pismo Beach.

The Pismo Beach colony is one of the largest in the nation, hosting an average of 25,000 butterflies over the last five years.

The butterflies form dense clusters with each one hanging with its wing down over the one below it to form a shingle effect. This provides shelter from the rain and warmth for the group. The weight of the cluster help keeps it from whipping in the wind and dislodging the butterflies.

Dear and I visited the Grove on a weekend getaway we had to Pismo Beach on January 18th and 19th. It really was wonderful to see this sight. When the sun warmed up the cluster of butterflies they started flying around and landing all around the grove. The grove of Eucalyptus trees was not very large. I had use the zoom on my camera to be able to get any close-ups of the butterflies.

Seeing one of these Monarch overwintering groves has been a desire of mine for a while now and I was so thrilled we could get away just an hour and a half up the coast of California from where we live to see these. This happened to be a record-breaking year for the Monarchs here with over 26,000 arriving. So the question that comes to my mind is how do they count them???

The Monarchs that visit Pismo Beach are a special variety. They have a life span of six months as opposed to that of common Monarchs who live only six weeks. This can be attributed to a unique fat storing system. However, even with an extended life span, those butterflies that leave in March will never return.

Scientists do not know why the Monarchs consistently return to some wintering sites. In North America, those sites range from the Central and Southern California Coast to Mexico. Some scientists speculate that the insects are equipped with genetic homing systems that lead them from their summer sites in the Sierras, Florida, Canada and the Great Lakes Region in North America back to their winter locations.

On the Central Coast, Monarchs winter in Pismo Beach, Pacific Grove and Morro Bay. The Natural History Museum In Morro Bay is an excellent resource for information about Monarchs.

ht: Monarch Butterfly.Org.

For more ABC’s on the letter B visit the official ABC Wednesday Blog.

35 thoughts on “Pismo Grove Monarchs 2009 ~ B is for Butterfly

  1. You voiced my question in your post. I was going to ask “how do they count them” too. But I see you are wondering the same thing. LOL! Your pictures as always are just beautiful. I keep telling my husband, remember Ellen the one I heard about the Sylmar fires from. He says “Yes”. Then I tell him, Ellen take such gorgeous pictures! I am always raving to him about your beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing all the interesting tidbits about your Pismo trip. You did a lot in that short time. Wow!

  2. Okay, I thought I left a comment and now I don’t see it. Here we go again. First you voiced the exact question I had. How do they count them? Hmmm…! I am always raving about your beautiful photographs to my husband. I say to him remember Ellen who I first heard about the Sylmar fires from? He says yes. I tell him Ellen takes such beautitul pictures. I can go on and on. Thank you for all the interesting tidbits about your trip to Pismo. You did a lot in such a short time there.

  3. We used to live up in Santa Cruz, and one year stayed at the Butterfly Grove Inn. When we woke, there were thousands right in our yard.

    Thanks so much for reminding me of that magical weekend.

    Kate
    cholulared.blogspot.com

  4. B is for Beautiful!!! Butterflyes are lovley creations, and I am sooo happy if I see a few in my garden a warm summerday 🙂 By the way – I`m longing for the summer 🙂

  5. Ellen, that’s amazing – it must have been very cool to see!

    We have a commercial “Butterfly Emporium” here which gets rave reviews; your beautiful photographs make me want to check it out. 🙂

  6. Ok, as I write this I am watching a PBS special on the Monarch. I’m wondering if you are too.

    I would love to see that place you visited.

  7. Very nice. I have seen the monarchs at Pismo Beach. They are also quite impressive in Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz (my former home town). The do at certain times and places coat tree branches in orange, like in your photos.

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