34,000 Monarch Butterflies and Counting So Far in Pismo Beach

A cluster of monarch butterflies at the Pismo Beach grove in December 2011. | Photo: Zach Behrens/KCET

A number of communities that dot California's coast welcome a colorful gathering each fall. Flutters of monarch butterflies from the colder climes of the western Rockies make the annual journey, wintering in the same small groves each year. And they've begun to arrive, with some very high numbers already in one San Luis Obispo County spot.

Pismo Beach officials reported an estimated 34,000 monarchs at its grove on Tuesday. "That's more than there was during the entire 2012-2013 season!" exclaimed a Facebook post from the city's Conference & Visitors Bureau.

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Elsewhere, the monarch counts are not as high. But that's not unusual for November, when flutters are still arriving.

Farther south in Santa Barbara County, a count this weekend by Goleta officials revealed an estimated 500 at the city's grove. Up in the city of Pacific Grove, some 3,400 were estimated during the last count at the end of October and about 800 were seen near Coopers Cabin in Andrew Molera State Park in Big Sur.

Wintering monarchs annually arrive in late October and throughout November and are usually gone by March.

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About the Author

Zach Behrens is KCET's Director of News, Region and State, working on digital and on-air news products that relate to Southern California and beyond.
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