From October to February (+/- a month), Monarch butterflies, which spend their summers in valley regions west of the Rockies, migrate to a few places in California to over-winter (the eastern population migrates to Mexico). Only places where very specific conditions are met are chosen as winter habitats; several of them can be found in the Monterey Bay area. In the past, one could easily find winter colonies in the hundreds of thousands here butdue to habitat loss, these counts have dropped drastically. When it is cold, the butterflies build clusters for warmthand can easily be mistaken for bunches of dry leaves. When it gets warmer, the activity level goes up. Somebutterflies drop out of the cluster and bask in the sun or gracefully fly around to find food sources. A fascinatingfact of the Monarch migration is that it takes severalgenerations. The butterflies that leave the summergrounds are not the same ones that finally arrive in thewintering grounds. Just another miracle of nature...This shot was taken in Santa Cruz; the colony size was probably between 1500 and 5000 butterflies.
CaliforniaUSAHorizontalAnimalFaunaButterflyMonarch butterflyWinterSanta CruzCoastDanaus plexippusOrange