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Goleta Monarch Butterfly Grove in Los Angeles

Monarch Butterflies have a unique ability to navigate and reach precisely a place located thousands of kilometres where they have never been before

Best time: mid–November–mid-February

Goleta Monarch Butterfly Grove
Goleta Monarch Butterfly Grove
Goleta Monarch Butterfly Grove
Goleta Monarch Butterfly Grove

Unlike most other butterflies, the Monarch Butterflies struggle to survive during long, cold winters. Therefore, they migrate to the south. In California, they fly into small groves along the coast. It is also interesting that they arrive at the same place. Moving from one place to another, the Monarch Butterflies overcome a distance of 4828 km (3,000 miles). These butterflies like cypress and eucalyptus trees. Sperling Preserve on the Ellwood Mesa in Goleta is a wonderful natural space in which the Monarch Butterflies like wintering.

Typically, migration runs from mid-November to mid-February, with peak months in December and January. You can see these amazing butterflies in the middle of the day. As a rule, they settle on sheets of eucalyptus with several individuals at once, warming up in the sun. Just don't confuse these beautiful butterflies with leaves.

The Goleta Butterfly Grove is open for visiting from sunrise to sunset. The entrance to the grove is free, but you can donate money to support the Monarch Butterfly Docent Program.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit the Goleta Monarch Butterfly Grove?

To enjoy the Monarch Butterfly's wintering at the Goleta Monarch Butterfly Grove, visiting from mid-November to mid-February, is ideal, with December and January being the peak months. During this period, they move towards the south and reside in small groves along the coast. The butterflies usually prefer settling on eucalyptus sheets, where they soak up the sun, mostly in the middle of the day. Show more

Where is the Sperling Preserve located in Goleta?

Goleta's Ellwood Mesa houses the Sperling Preserve, an exceptional natural habitat often wintered by Monarch Butterflies. To get there, take the Storke Road exit off Highway 101, head towards Elwood Beach, where Santa Barbara Shores Drive joins the preserve, immediately west of the beach. Easily spot the parking area direction through the signs given on the road. Show more

How do Monarch Butterflies navigate such long distances?

Monarch Butterflies possess a unique ability to navigate through unfamiliar routes accurately, and reach their intended location. Experts believe they use the position of the sun, earth's magnetic field, and polarized light to determine the course to follow. It's remarkable how they can sense the sun through their antennae and stay on track irrespective of obstacles on the way. Show more

What type of trees do Monarch Butterflies like wintering on?

During winter, Monarch Butterflies tend to maintain cypress and eucalyptus trees as their preference. Both trees have clumps of leaves and branches that can provide denser coverage and aid in warmth retention throughout the cold season. The eucalyptus leaves' natural oils can help supply nutrients for the butterfly while also fending off predators. Show more

Are there any fees for visiting the Goleta Butterfly Grove?

Entirely free, the Goleta Butterfly Grove is open to harness from sunrise to sunset, with no admission charges. However, the grove provides its attendants with an opportunity to donate and support the Monarch Butterfly Docent Program. Gain more insight on the butterfly, including their migratory patterns, lifecycle, and conservation by interacting with the knowledgable docents at the program. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin