Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel
“For everything there is a season.” – Ecclesiastes
Along California’s central coast the majestic orange-and-black Monarch Butterflies have made this the season to return after years of declining numbers during their fall/winter migrations.
In Pacific Grove, a key resting stop on the butterflies’ migration from the Pacific Northwest to Mexico (November to March), over 12,000 butterflies were counted in 2021. In 2020 fewer than 2,000 butterflies were counted. Some areas had none.
Looking at the butterflies’ arrivals at other spots so far – Pismo Beach counted over 22,000 thru December – it’s estimated that there will be at least 100,000 butterflies throughout the West this season. A cause for celebration.
Seeing the butterflies arriving has been good news for California after growing fears that they might not come back at all. Given the obstacles they face – from dwindling habitat due to farming and housing development to lack of water and food – the Monarchs have a difficult journey each year.
Scientists aren’t sure what’s caused the bounce-back in the butterflies. Ironically, some have speculated that it may be because the state’s drought has created warmer, dryer flying conditions. And environmental groups have been working to plant more milkweed and nectar plants – sources of food – at the butterflies’ roosting sites.
Whatever the case, the butterflies’ return this season is encouraging. And, while it’s far from the highs of the 1980’s when there were millions of Monarchs, still it’s a stunning sight to see them in flight again.
Hail to the Monarchs! Long may they reign.
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