Did you know a gathering of butterflies is sometimes called a kaleidoscope? It’s a fitting term for the colorful insect, which is currently gathering by the tens of thousands on the California coast.
If you want to see a kaleidoscope of butterflies in action, head to Pismo State Beach Butterfly Grove before it closes for the season on Feb. 28.
See butterflies up close and personal
Western Monarch butterflies spend the cold winter months along the Central coast of California, much like some Fresnans I know. The butterflies begin arriving in October, covering the branches and leaves of the eucalyptus grove in Pismo Beach (other good gathering places include Morro Bay and Pacific Grove).
The Pismo State Beach Butterfly Grove has one of the largest butterfly gatherings. It’s free to visit, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. there are docents and volunteers available to answer your questions about all things butterfly.
One of the best parts about visiting the grove is the telescopes. Pointed to the branches, a glimpse into a telescope really makes the individual butterflies pop. They all hang out so close to each other, they can look like a pile of leaves from a distance. With the telescope you can see each one clearly, from the tiny white dots on their wings to the black antenna that led them there.
I took a family day-cation to the butterfly grove last weekend and the Monarchs were out in full force. It’s a good idea to wait until the afternoon warms them up, because in the early morning they stay still, clustered in the trees. When I arrived around 1 p.m. they were flying all over the place (in fact, it’s important to check the ground for rogue butterflies before you take a step). My kids really enjoyed seeing them flitting about in great masses. Basically it’s a cool experience for kids and adults alike.
Need more motivation to see the Monarchs? Add cake!
If you’re a person who enjoys a good butterfly kaleidoscope but feels everything is better with cake, consider heading to Pismo this Saturday.
On Feb. 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the grove will celebrate the California Western Monarch Day. As with any good celebration, cake will be involved thanks to the city of Pismo. There will be games, crafts, and face painting as well as educational displays about the Monarchs. It’s bound to be fun when you have ten thousand butterflies at your party.
Where to go
The Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove is located on Highway 1 between Pismo Beach and Grover Beach, at 445 South Dolliver, Pismo Beach, CA. Visit the website here, or follow the Facebook event page here.
Have you checked out the Butterfly Grove? There’s still time to catch it before it flies away.
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