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.
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