Thousands of radiant winged orange and black Monarch Butterflies will soon be en route to California from as far away as southern Canada. Lucky are those individuals who get a glimpse of these winged beauties as they make their way down and across the Golden State.
Escaping from the coming northern winter, the butterflies’ planned destination is the Monarch Butterfly Grove in Pismo Beach, California. This is the state’s largest populated monarch butterfly grove, and the annual fly in visitors will begin to congregate in the grove in late October, and remain there until early spring.
These beautiful velvet-winged tourists will cluster like leaves on the branches of sweet-smelling Eucalyptus trees. Others will clump together like bananas, each butterfly’s wings covering the one below. The clumping helps keep the colony warm and holds it together during the central California coast’s chilly bouts of rain and wind.
Once comfortably settled into their winter haven, the butterflies will wait for daylight temperatures to approach sixty degrees before they will venture away from the group to search for nourishment from flower nectar and water.
As evening approaches and the temperature begins to drop, the butterflies will once again return to the grove and form their protective masses.
Increasing life span
The monarch butterfly has a summer lifespan of little more than six weeks, but at the Pismo Beach Monarch Grove in winter, they can live for several months.
Great time to visit
Pismo Beach is a popular family destination in the summer months, but in October, the hotels, streets, and restaurants are pleasantly uncrowded. Everything becomes easily accessible to the curious ‘butterfly peepers’ who come from far and wide to see the monarchs.
If you plan to be in California in late October and beyond, consider a side-trip to Pismo Beach. Everyone we talk to that visited the butterfly grove enjoyed the fascinating antics and beauty of these amazing little creatures. We certainly did.
If you go
The Monarch Butterfly Grove is on State Highway 1, and on the south side of Pismo Beach, near the city limits. During the Monarch season, the Grove is staffed daily between 10am and 4pm. There are docent walks and talks, weather permitting. If you want to overnight, there are plenty of comfortable accommodations offering off-season rates, just minutes from the Grove.
Where we stayed
We made our reservations at the Sea Venture Resort (www.SeaVenture.com) because it is located right on the beach, and close to the Pismo Beach Pier, and the Butterfly Grove.
Enjoy your autumn, and happy travels!
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