Monarch caterpillars chomping away at their main food source the milkweed which is in very very short supply due to the drought. Milkweeds, that is, any Asclepias species, are the host plants to Monarch butterflies and the only plant on which they will lay eggs to continue their life cycle. Milkweed was planted in our community garden to help them out.
Each year thousands of vibrant orange and black Monarch Butterflies flock to Pismo Beach, seeking shelter from the freezing northern winters. From late October to February, the butterflies cluster in the limbs of a grove of Eucalyptus trees. The butterflies form dense clusters with each one hanging with its wing down over the one below it to form a shingle effect. This provides shelter from the rain and warmth for the group. The weight of the cluster help keeps it from whipping in the wind and dislodging the butterflies. This colony is one of the largest in the nation, hosting an average of 25,000 butterflies over the last five years.
As the sun hits their wings and they warm up they begin to open and take flight. Monarchs are unable to fly in weather 55 degrees or lower.
Male Monarch Butterfly
Male Monarch Butterfly (males have a black dot on their underwings) – Monarch Butterflies winter here on the Central Coast – in Pismo Beach, Morro Bay and Pacific Grove. They return every winter between Oct. and Feb. This is a special variety of Monarch Butterfly with a life span of about 6 months. The normal life span of a common Monarch is about 6 weeks. As always, click on the image to enlarge and enjoy even further.
Monarch Butterfly (male)