7 Best Butterfly Spotting Locations To See The Monarch Butterfly
The Monarch butterfly is perhaps the most easily recognized type of butterfly in North America. People who have a hobby of watching butterflies are likely already aware that Monarch populations are dying out quickly; the population has decreased ninety percent over the last twenty years.
This sad phenomenon relates to problems that they are now facing during their flight from Canada to Mexico. Monarchs are the only species of butterflies to complete a two-way migration. It means they leave their homes up North for warmer climates down South. When the seasons change for cooler weather, Then begin making their way back once it is hot again.
Unlike other species of butterflies that can survive freezing in cold climates at certain stages of their development. Monarchs cannot and thus must find a suitable home to overwinter.
Because of illegal logging in Mexico, the plants that Monarchs use for breeding, food, and shelter. They are becoming sparse and with it the Monarch butterfly populations. Pesticides and Insecticides that they encounter while making their trip are threats. To the survival of these beautiful black and orange butterflies.
Monarchs can still be spotted, however; one just has to know where are when to look.
Here Are 7 Popular Locations For Finding Monarch Butterflies:
1. Michoacán, Mexico
California is the best US state to visit for butterfly spotting during Winter, but the numbers still can’t match Mexico. The Monarch Biosphere Reserve located in Michoacán, Mexico around sixty miles Northwest of the nation’s Capitol.
Millions will visit this over one hundred thirty-nine acre area, sometimes billions of Monarchs each Winter season. There are fourteen major Monarch colonies on the site, but some are protected by Unesco and can’t be seen up close by the public.
The best time to visit is from January to February. The El Rosario and Sierra Chincua colonies are open to tourists and still have some of the highest quantities of butterflies. Due to its fame, this place is one of the most Popular locations for tourists to visit.
2. Los Sauces, Mexico
This spot is not as big as the Monarch Biosphere Reserve, but Piedra Herrada still attracts millions of Monarch butterflies during the Winter months.
Here is a place worth looking into for those who do not want to visit a site that is not overly commercialized and is much more rural than the Monarch Biosphere Reserve in Michoacán. This excellent place will feel more like an adventure than a tourist stop.
Visitors can ride horseback up the intense incline, then make their way through vast vegetation to find themselves in the haven of the Monarch butterflies.
3. Pismo Beach, California
The Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove gives away that it is one of the most Popular locations for Monarchs in the name. The butterflies are drawn to this prime location because of its many Eucalyptus trees and coastal climate.
Mid-October to Mid-February is the best time for butterfly spotting, as twenty-five thousand butterflies are known to visit this spot every year. It is common to see clusters of the orange and black butterflies hanging from the tree leaves there.
The colony that visits Pismo Beach every year is unique. The average lifespan of most Monarch butterflies is around six weeks, but the Pismo Beach colony tends to live up to six months!
4. Pacific Grove, California
Monarchs from the Western United States are no longer exclusively migrating to Mexico during Winter; some are taking refuge in California.
A study showed that there are generations of butterflies that migrate to and from Monarch Grove Sanctuary in Pacific Grove, California every year. The best time for butterfly spotting is from Mid-October to Mid-February.
The Monarchs can be seen flying around during all parts of the day, but come out around three in the afternoon when the sunlight is hottest in the trees.
5. Goleta, California
The Goleta Monarch Butterfly Grove is another one of the most Popular locations for seeing butterflies during the Winter months. A few years ago over forty-five thousand butterflies were counted while spending the Winter there.
The population is beginning to dwindle at this site, but around four thousand five hundred Monarchs can still see at this Grove right outside of Santa Barbara. Entry into the grove is free and tours are available on the weekends.
6. Santa Cruz, California
Santa Cruz is home to the state’s only Monarch Preserve. Monarch Grove at Santa Cruz’s Natural Bridges State Beach will see around one hundred thousand Monarch butterflies come to visit during the Winter months.
There the butterflies enjoy the eucalyptus trees and warm weather. Like most Popular locations for butterfly spotting in California, the best time to visit is from Mid-October to Mid-February. Locally, citizens of Santa Cruz are encouraged to add plants that help butterflies to their garden and not use pesticides, since pesticides also factor into why Monarch populations are declining.
Marigolds, asters, and cosmos all produce nectar that butterflies can feed off of. Milkweed is the only plant the female Monarch will lay her eggs on and the only plant the larvae will eat. Milkweed also has toxins that won’t hurt butterflies but will keep away their natural predators.
7. Ontario, Canada
At Point Pelee National Park in Ontario, Canada butterfly spotting is easy from early Spring to Autumn. The Canadian government is now saying the Monarchs are of “particular concern” and thus is making sure the parks have plenty of Milkweed, one of the Butterflies’ favorite plants.
Thousands of Monarch butterflies will make Point Pelee their home before starting their journey South. It is not just the Milkweed; it is the location that makes this a preferred park for butterflies. Point Pelee is on a peninsula that surrounded by Lake Erie, which will give the Monarchs a leap start on their flight to Mexico.
At the outset of the Southern migration, the butterflies can be seen funneling to the tip of the peninsula. And waiting for a robust breeze to launch them into their journey. That is a very Popular location for butterfly lovers to visit since the Monarchs will leave in large groups and it’s interesting to see their send-off.