Best time to travel to San Diego

Monarch Butterfly Migration in San Diego 2024-2025

See beautiful black-and-orange butterflies at their wintering grounds

Best time: mid-October–early February

Monarch Butterfly Migration
A monarch butterfly in San Diego

Every fall, nature enthusiasts in California rejoice as thousands of monarch butterflies, or Danaus plexippus, arrive to spend winter. These tiny creatures cover over 3,000 mi (4,800 km) flying from their breeding sites in the northern states to the south. Some of the largest monarch sanctuaries are located on the Central California Coast, however, San Diego is also among their favorite wintering destinations.

Monarchs arrive in California around mid-October and stay until early February. They can be spotted around San Diego parks and private gardens. The north end of the University of California San Diego campus, in particular the Eucalyptus Grove at the Ecological Park, is among the spots where butterflies are seen regularly. They flock to eucalyptus and other trees that are flowering in the winter to feed. When the temperature is cold (below 55 °F or 14 °C) butterflies usually stay on the trees forming clusters. Unfortunately, the monarch population coming to San Diego has decreased considerably over the recent years. Scientists point to the extensive use of pesticides and urbanization to account for this decline.

Practical info

When can tourists witness the monarch butterfly migration in San Diego?

San Diego witnesses the monarch butterfly migration from mid-October to early February, and thousands of butterflies arrive during this time. The butterflies can be seen in several parks and private gardens around the city. Show more

What are some of the locations in San Diego where tourists can spot monarch butterflies?

While several parks and private gardens are popular spots to see the monarch butterfly in San Diego, tourists can also spot them in the Eucalyptus grove at the Ecological Park on the north end of the University of California campus today. Additionally, several renowned butterfly sanctuaries are located on the Central California Coast. Show more

For what amount of time do monarch butterflies stay in San Diego during their winter migration?

The monarch butterflies stay in San Diego from mid-October to early February, a period that spans around three to four months. During their stay, they mainly feed on flowering trees like eucalyptus while forming clusters on the trees to stay warm when it's cold outside. Show more

Which type of trees do monarch butterflies feed on while in San Diego?

Monarch butterflies feed on eucalyptus and other flowering trees during their stay in San Diego. Typically, they migrate to the same favorite wintering destinations every year, arriving from thousands of miles away, including north central Californian Coast and sometimes Southern California and Baja California in Mexico. Show more

What factors are contributing to the decline in the monarch butterfly population in San Diego?

The monarch butterfly population in San Diego is declining rapidly due to urbanization and the extensive use of pesticides. Environmental damage and changes in climate patterns have negatively impacted the migration of the butterflies, making conservation and habitat protection crucial to prevent further declines in their population in the region. Show more

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