January 26, 2012

Pismo Beach, California

Today we are going to learn about the Monarch butterfly because Pismo Beach has the honor of hosting these beautiful creatures for 5-6 months each year. Would you believe that they leave the Rocky Mountains and Canada in late August or early September, traveling at speeds of 100 miles per day and flying as high as 10,000 feet, to reach Pismo Beach, California, by October? That is a trip of over 2,000 miles that they instinctively make each year.

Did you know that they have four wings and six legs?

They come to Pismo Beach for the grove of Eucalyptus and Cyprus trees that provide them with just the proper humidity, light, shade, temperature and protection from the elements while they feed on the necter in the flowers. That's why we keep coming back to Pismo Beach, too.

The park rangers conduct classes twice a day for the public and schools.

We watched and listened to this instructor while he asked the children, "and then what does the caterpillar turn into?" One quick child yelled out "an airplane?" At least he knew it would be something that can fly.  

There were thousands of Monarch butterflies everywhere!

As often as we have come to see the butterflies, we have never seen so many of them just flying around and not clumped together in large packs. They "cluster" in large groups to stay warm and keep from being blown away during high winds. Come to think of it, every time we went to check on them prior to today, the weather was cold and often times rainy. Today, the temperature is 68 degrees and sunny.

As they are on vacation here, they also take time to mate. They mate on the ground, not in the trees. One little boy asked his dad what those two butterflies were doing. The dad answered, "they're wrestling."

Leave it to Jerry to capture this one.

And, that's the end of today's lesson.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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