Thousands of golden monarch butterflies flutter south along the California coast to Pismo Beach State Park every year. This migration begins around October and extends through February. The butterflies cluster in groves of eucalyptus and cypress trees at the State Park and other areas.
Local residents and visitors to the popular Pismo Beach area come to the park on State Route 1 to witness the migration. Volunteer docents at the park offer information on the migrating butterflies and lead quiet tours to the eucalyptus and cypress groves. They explain how the butterflies form dense clusters to protect themselves from rain and wind.
The daily talks began Nov. 3 and they continue at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm daily as part of the tour of the Monarch Butterfly Grove. "A Brush with Butterflies" explains the history of the monarchs and their southern migration. The grove remains open until Feb. 28, 2019.
Western Monarch Day is celebrated on Feb. 2, 2019, with educational display booth activities for adults and youngsters. The Docent Trailer is open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm daily until the grove is closed.
This particular species of monarchs have a six-month lifespan. An estimated 25,000 butterflies visit the eucalyptus groves in Pismo Beach State Park each year. The butterflies that arrive in October and November leave in late February and March never to return.
Morro Bay's Natural History Museum has a display with extensive information on the migration pattern of the monarchs. Scientists believe that these beautiful insects have a natural instinct that leads to them to warm winter grounds.
Admission to the park and the butterfly grove are free. This is a delightful opportunity for students at The Academy Chorro near Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to enjoy this colorful display of nature.