On a recent November morning, more than 20,000 western monarch butterflies clustered in a grove of eucalyptus, coating the swaying trees like orange lace. Each year up to 30% of the butterfly’s population meets here in Pismo Beach, California, as the insects migrate thousands of miles west for the winter.
Just a year ago, this vibrant spectacle had all but disappeared. The monarch population has plummeted in recent years, as the vibrant invertebrates struggled to adapt to habitat loss, climate crisis, and harmful pesticide-use across their western range.
Last year less than 200 arrived at this site in 2020 – the lowest number ever recorded – and less than 2,000 were counted across the California coast.
But ahead of the official annual count that takes place around Thanksgiving, early tallies show monarchs may be thriving once again across California. The rise has sparked joy and relief, but the researchers, state park officials, and advocates say that doesn’t mean the species is safe.
GREAT NEWS: It is exciting that monarch butterflies may be thriving after years of decline. Is it a comeback? Data show monarchs may be thriving once again across California. The rise has sparked joy & relief, but that doesn’t mean the species is safe. https://t.co/9RQHx9Qkug
— Dr. William J. Ripple (@WilliamJRipple) November 22, 2021