Monarchs overwintering along the California Coast
I just returned from California and witnessed the thousands of Monarch butterflies overwintering in Monterey's pine forest of Pacific Grove. Clustering together on branches of pines, cypress and eucalyptus the monarchs can withstand freezing temperatures in the protection of the trees where they preserve precious energy. Many species of birds, whales or salmon travel the same route year after year. The monarch migration is unique in that this seasons butterflies are returning to a site that was visited 4 generations prior to their journey. Their internal navigation brings the butterflies to Pacific Grove and other overwintering sites along the coast of California, many traveling 2000 miles from Canada for a 6 to 9 month rest. The butterflies hang in clusters on the trees when temperatues drop below 55 degrees creating a micro climate for survival. As the day temperatures warm they will take flight north where they will lay eggs on the underside of the milkweed plant. Generally three generations of the monarch's will continue to breed and fly further north, each generation living about 1 month, before the historic migration of the western population will find their way back to California's central coast.
See October 10th learn about article on the Monarch migration for more information about this fascinating topic.