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Monarch Butterfly Migration in Los Angeles

Visit amazing butterfly wintering grounds, not far from Los Angeles

Best time: mid-October–early February

Monarch Butterfly Migration
Monarch butterflies at Pismo Beach
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The monarch migration is one of the most spectacular natural phenomena that you can witness in California. While monarchs, or Danaus plexippus, pass through many states on their annual route from north to south, the eucalyptus groves of the Central California Coast are their final destination. Here is where they stay for about four months, enjoying the mild winter climate. Monarchs arrive in California in mid-October and usually stay till February. There are several butterfly sanctuaries that can be visited during this time in just a short distance from Los Angeles.

In just a 1.5-hour drive from LA, you can reach Goleta’s Butterfly Grove, not far from Santa Barbara. A beautiful coastal sanctuary consists of pine and eucalyptus trees. On a cold day, when the temperature is below 55 °F (14 °C), you can see butterflies sleeping in clusters on the trees. If the weather is warmer, you can spot many of them flying. The butterfly trail leads to beautiful Ellwood Beach where you can marvel at more views of the ocean.

2,5 hours from LA, you can reach Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove, another beautiful wintering site for monarch butterflies. It is known to host one of the largest monarch congregations in California. Thousands of beautiful winged creatures fly around gathering nectar during the day or resting on the trees if it's too cold for them to fly. The sanctuary can be accessed from North Beach Campground. After the walk, you might also want to stop at the Pismo Beach Pier for some stunning ocean views.

Practical info

When can monarch butterflies be seen in Los Angeles?

One ideal time to witness monarch butterflies in Los Angeles is mid-October to early February. These beautiful butterflies arrive in California in October and stay until February. During this time, butterfly sanctuaries like Goleta's Butterfly Grove near Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove open for visitors to witness the migration. Show more

What is the nearest butterfly sanctuary to Los Angeles?

The Goleta's Butterfly Grove near Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove are the nearest butterfly sanctuaries to Los Angeles. You can easily reach both sites by car. Both sites provide visitors with opportunities to observe the beautiful monarch butterflies and witness their migration. Show more

How do monarch butterflies survive winters on the central California coast?

Monarch butterflies survive winters on the central California coast by roosting in eucalyptus trees and staying in clusters to conserve energy. Eucalyptus trees provide safety from predators and harsh winds, while clustering helps to retain warmth. During the day, they feed on nectar from flowers to produce energy for the colder nights. This adaptation allows them to survive throughout winter. Show more

What is the temperature in the area during monarch butterfly migration season?

The area experiences a mild climate between 55-65 °F (12-18 °C) during monarch butterfly migration season. The central California coast has cooler temperatures during the day, and nights are colder. Visitors should wear layers to stay warm while enjoying the beautiful sight of monarch butterflies resting in eucalyptus groves not far from Los Angeles. Show more

Can visitors touch or hold the monarch butterflies while visiting sanctuaries?

Visitors cannot touch or hold monarch butterflies while visiting sanctuaries due to their protected status. Sanctuaries promote a stress-free environment and encourage visitors to observe these beautiful creatures from a distance. Guides are available to offer insight into the monarch butterfly migration and their winter habitat. Show more

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Last updated: by Olga Valchyshen