It’s almost butterfly season in Goleta and we thought you might enjoy knowing a little more about this local gem.
What is the migration pattern of the Monarch Butterfly we see at the Goleta Butterfly Grove?
Monarch Butterflies that migrate to the California coast come from west of the Rocky Mountains to escape the freezing temperatures. They stay mid-November to mid-February and then begin their return journey. On the return trip the females lay up to 400 eggs on milkweed plants and those offspring will continue migrating north. Four or five generations occur over the summer while the monarchs cover the range of milkweed plants up to Canada. Come fall the migration begins again.
What brings the Monarch Butterfly to the Goleta Butterfly Grove?
The eucalyptus trees we have in the Goleta Butterfly Grove create the specific microclimate characteristics that the Monarch Butterflies require to survive the winter months. The thick border of trees offers the sheltered trees in the center protection from the wind and storms. Openings in the canopy allow for some sun exposure, but not too much that the butterflies get too warm and active. The butterflies also require close proximity to water and nectar sources which they can find at or near the Butterfly Grove.
When should people visit the Butterfly Grove?
The Monarchs typically stay mid-November to mid-February, with the population peaking near the end of December. They are most active in February, when they mate before leaving the Grove. If you come in the morning or on cooler days, you will see the monarchs staying in clusters. If you prefer to see them more active, come on a warmer day or in the afternoon when they tend to be flying and puddling (gathering water and minerals from the soil) in and around the Grove.
What else should I know?
Visitors should wear sturdy shoes and bring binoculars to help see this amazing phenomenon. Natural trails and rough terrain make it difficult to access by wheelchair. Please don’t visit the Grove when it’s raining or when the ground is muddy from a recent storm. Docents can be found at the Goleta Butterfly Grove on weekends from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. mid-November through mid-February (weather permitting). They are available to answer questions and provide information about the Monarch Butterflies and our treasured Grove.
Have more butterfly-related questions? Get in touch with Ines Hernandez, the Monarch Butterfly Docent Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 961-7571.