Location: Pismo Beach, California
January 26, 2011
I continue to thoroughly enjoy your site — especially here in central Minnesota in January.
In November, my family and I learned the monarch butterflies west of the Rockies spend their winters in coastal California. We’ve wanted to visit the sites “our” monarchs use in Mexico, but that’s very expensive and currently too dangerous. I know yours is not a travel site, but we learned of this place quite by accident, and I’m sure other bug nuts would appreciate learning about Pismo State Beach, and the other sites there. Perhaps you need to add a “travel section” to WTB.
I could tell you much more about our trip to your state. Beyond seeing thousands of monarchs, it was very interesting to see how many of the butterflies there are tagged. We observed four or five different-colored circular tags, and many butterflies marked by coloring in a cell on the rear right wing with a Sharpee marker. This is done by those keeping track of the number of butterflies using the site (around 20,000).
Anyway, the Pismo site is very accessible to anyone and easy to find. The butterflies are there from November through February, depending on the weather.
You can learn more at: http://www.monarchbutterfly.org/
Thanks for your continuing excellent work.
Don J. Dinndorf
St. Augusta, MN
Thanks for your wonderful letter. It is interesting that these Monarchs are roosting in a eucalyptus tree which is not native to California. Though I have never visited one of the roosting sites, I did have the distinct pleasure of seeing migrating Monarchs roosting in a tree in Roosevelt Park in Youngstown, Ohio as a child. It was an awesome sight.
Hello again, Daniel. Thanks for your quick reply.
A graduate student studying the Pismo monarchs told us the monarch used to roost in cyprus trees there. But the pioneers cut those trees down, and planted eucalyptus. The “new” trees leaves are glossy, and she told us the butterflies have a hard time getting a grip, sometimes falling right off. The State Park is trying to re-establish some cyprus there.
Interestingly, the grad student also said when they are counting the butterlfies, they have to double their estimate for those clusters on the cyprus, because the monarchs group so much more tightly on their original tree species.