I went to the Monarch Grove this afternoon. That’s the little grove in (brace yourself for another “grove”) Pacific Grove, very near Point Pinos and the lighthouse, where migrating Monarch butterflies gather for a rest on the trip. It’s very cool.

They’ve moved to the other side of the path. They used to clump in some trees on the south side of the path, but now they clump in a Monterey Pine on the north side.

After looking at them there through the binoculars for awhile I took the docent’s advice and went down the little hill where she said they were fluttering around, and so they were, as well as perching singly on pine trees and a bottle brush tree.

They’re butterflies. Butterflies. Fragile as kleenex, and they fly thousands of miles.

Wonderful life.


  1. says

    As part of her science lessons, my mom got trained and certified by the province to raise monarchs from caterpillars. It’s quite cool ^.^

  2. Rodney Nelson says

    Monarch butterflies migrating to Carmel play a part in John Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday, the sequel to Cannery Row.

  3. evilDoug says

    What with you going on so about butterflies, and Dana about dinosaur nests, and Stephen about icebergs and squid, and ol’ Papa Zulu about beautiful squid moms, all in the same day, there is a serious risk of blowing the established reputation of atheists for not finding wonder in the world.

  4. Stacy says

    I saw those butterfly clusters in eucalyptus trees at Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz. Wonderful indeed. At first glance they look like a big clump of dead leaves. But the leaves are fluttering.

    In Santa Cruz county, the year after the Loma Prieta earthquake, I heard this story from a young woman I encountered on a bus: her mother’s house was on the Monarch’s migratory route.

    Her mother was in the backyard that evening, and there were butterflies everywhere, resting on the trees, on the grass. When the earthquake struck, they all flew up into the air at the same time.

  5. Tim Harris says

    To have heard the farfalla gasping/ as toward a bridge over worlds./ That the kings meet in their island/ where no food is after flight from the pole./ Milkweed the sustenance/ as to enter arcanum./ To be men not destroyers.

  6. says

    Amazing, aren’t they?

    Ardenwood Regional Park up here by SF Bay is having a good monarch year, after a couple of scarily poor ones. The butterflies seem to like eucalyptus, which presents an interesting conservation dilemma.

    I wonder if some eucs were lost or cut down on the south side of the PG patch.

  7. says

    I think not. I think I was starting to train my binocs on the usual eucs when the docent told me, “They’re not there.” “They’re not?” I said in dismay, thinking she meant there were none in the grove at all. “They’ve moved,” she said. The eucalyptus must still be there, or I would have noticed when I started to search them! I put it that way because I don’t specifically remember seeing them.

  8. Sastra says

    Well, it’s about time! Now the blog’s title is finally making some sense!

    I will assume that when you “went down the little hill,” you did so on a bicycle. Or in an ATV.

    It all comes together….

  9. says

    Hahahaha – no, “down the little hill” was just a few yards, so shank’s mare did the job, but it’s ok, because I got to the grove itself in my employer’s boat-like Mercedes. WHEELS, man.

  10. says

    “Thousands of miles”? I have heard a rumour (and I can’t make it any more authoritative than that, so don’t ask for citations) that the butterflies that complete the journey are the third or fourth generation descendants of the ones that start out. No butterfly makes the whole journey. Which, to my mind, makes the whole thing even more remarkable.

  11. says

    My understanding is that the trip north is made in several generations but that the migration south of some 3000 miles is made in a single generation called the Methuselah generation. No butterflies make a complete loop (from north to south back to north) but some do fly thousands of miles to get from as far north as Canada down to Mexico. Here’s some more information if you’re interested. http://www.bestday.com/Editorial/Monarch_Butterfly/

  12. mdvalero says

    michaaeld that’s my understanding as well – the return flight to Mexico is easier/faster thanks to the wind if I remember correctly and is taken by a single generation.

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