on January 7, 2001
Pismo Beach is home to a grove of eucalyptus trees that are a Winter Haven for Monarch butterflies. The insects hang in clusters from the branches. This is one of the few publicly owned "overwintering" sites in California (another one can be found in Los Osos, about 30 minutes north).
Monarchs are unique to the insect world because of their habit of migration. No other insects are known to migrate. In the summer Monarchs can be found up in to Canada. Overwintering sites spread down through Mexico and along the coast of California. Scientists are still trying to figure out how these marvelous butterflies end up in the same places year after year. You see, a monarch life span is a maximum of 9 months. That means a new generation of bugs each year find the same overwintering sites without ever having been there before.
To view these magnificent creatures you only need to be in the right place at the right time. The overwintering spot is on hiway 1 just south of Pismo Beach and adjacent to the state park campground. Parking is along the road and access to the beach is just beyond the grove of trees. If the wind is blowing strongly the butterflies stay bunched up until the winds die down. They will also not be very active in cooler weather (below 55 degrees F). When the sun is shining they can be seen fluttering their wings to gain warmth and flying around looking for nectar and mates.
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