Visit the majestic monarch butterflies as they overwinter at Pismo State Beach Monarch Grove
– The 2022 winter western monarch butterfly count reported a dramatic increase in the local population of this iconic orange and black butterfly. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation has reported that the local population has increased for the second year in a row. The 2022 winter count reported 129,000 butterflies in San Luis Obispo County, up from over 90,000 in 2021. So far, the total for the first 2022 western monarch butterfly count for California reports more than 300,000 increasing from 247,237 in 2021.
The Pismo State Beach Monarch Grove is one of California’s principal overwintering sites for the monarch. The butterflies can be seen hanging in clusters on the eucalyptus trees in the grove and now and then, a few will flutter around, adding a sense of a magical wonderland to the grove.
The Pismo Beach Monarch Grove is also the trailhead for the Western Monarch Trail. Officially launched on Earth Day in April 2022 when the first interpretive panels were installed in the park, the Western Monarch Trail follows the migration route of the monarch butterfly through California and other western states.
The panels at the Pismo Beach monarch grove, in Spanish and English, provide information about the monarch butterflies and what we can do to help preserve and restore the population. Experts in the field and representatives of participating organizations have all collaborated to create beautiful and informative panels.
The declining monarch butterfly population has been a concern for scientists and butterfly enthusiasts since 2014 when a dramatic decline was observed in butterflies hibernating in Mexico. Scientists attribute the decline to the disappearance of the monarch milkweed plant, the only plant the monarch caterpillar will eat. Statewide 1995 butterflies were counted in January 2020, a chilling drop from the millions of monarchs that used to overwinter at various California sites.
Monarch butterflies leave their overwintering sites in the spring to breed and migrate north as far as Canada. They breed and hatch several generations on their way north, each generation living only a short time except for the last generation, which returns to their overwintering groves. The western monarch overwinters along the California Coast. The monarch butterflies that overwinter in Mexico migrate through the eastern United States, then return to Mexico.
The best spots to see and learn more about the monarch butterfly on the Central Coast are the Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove and the grove at Morro Bay State Park.
Visitors to the grove at Pismo State Beach, located just off State Highway 1, are greeted by knowledgeable and well-informed volunteer docents offering talks and information about the butterflies visiting the grove.
The Pismo State Beach Monarch Grove is located at 400 S Dolliver St, Pismo Beach. For more information visit parks.ca.gov.