Monarchs have completed migration and are overwintering in many locations.
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The 2015 monarch population count is expected to be released as soon as tomorrow!

Monarchs are most numerous in two sites in California.
SANTA CRUZ, CA. Natural Bridges Butterfly Trail
Natural Bridges State Beach Monarch Trail is the monarch overwintering site that I have visited three times. The first visit was in 1996. The second visit was in 2012. The most recent visit pictured above was in 2014. Population at this site has fluctuated greatly over the years. In 1996 the number of monarchs was thru the roof. The numbers reported in Mexico overwinter locations was also high. The highest in recorded history. Sadly in 2012 I arrived in early February and the monarchs had already left due to warm weather. I was pleased to see as many as I did in November of 2014. The Monterey Bay Monarchs blog entry shares more about the visit.
PACIFIC GROVE, CA. Monarch Sanctuary
Pacific Grove, California has adopted the name Butterfly Town U.S.A. They live up to the expectations set by their name. In addition to seeing monarch butterfly images on many of their city signs and businesses. They have a few monarch branded hotels and a monarch sanctuary. Above is a photo I took by the entrance to the butterfly sanctuary. Upon entering there were a few brochures with a map and information about the migration and lifecycle of the butterfly. The butterflies at this location were a little bit lower on pine trees that had better light during our visit. There were also two deer in the area which was pleasant. The Monterey Bay Monarch blog entry shares more about my visit.
I have started some new projects. Yes they are still about milkweed.
Finding milkweed sources across the country has become a goal of mine. While some major names like Monarch Watch and The Xerces Society have seed finder tools. I found their information to be outdated or inaccurate in many cases. So I have been contacting nurseries and garden centers directly to inquire about their milkweed plant and seed availability. The information is added to the state pages at but a simple and social way to locate current milkweed sellers for 2015 is thru my new Pinterest board Milkweed Sources.
In recent news this week. One of the biggest names in monarch research and conservation weighed in on a hot topic. Chip Taylor from the university of Kansas shares his opinion about adding monarch butterflies to the endangered species list. The headline reporting his opinion is "Scientist recommends grassroots efforts, not legislation, to protect monarch butterfly". Although the subject is controversial amount some groups I feel that Chip Taylor's message has been consistent over the years. He has always called on individualy to plant more milkweed and educate others.
Today's last bit of news is that I have recorded the first in a series of podcasts that will become available in February 2015 that focuses on growing milkweed plants. Upon launch there will be three episodes to begin with. Then I will do monthly, weekly and perhaps even daily updates through the year depending of the amount of material available. If you are interested in a preview then you may subscribe to the podcast ahead of the release by selecting this link or visiting the podcast website here. I am accepting feedback about the podcast audio via email to at any time. Thank you for your support.
In the headline I mentioned that monarchs are most numerous at two overwintering sites in California. What is amazing about the Western monarch migration is that monarchs use over 200 known locations during the winter. The majority of them are public and some even have guided tours available. To see the raw data in the form of a spreadsheet document you can download all the information right here!
In closing I would like to say thank you very much for being receptive to monarch butterflies and their host plant milkweed. If you are interested in unsubscribing from my emails there is a link below. Spring is a few months away. I would appreciate your help in locating milkweed plants that are being sold at local nurseries. If you're visiting a nursery or garden center this spring and see milkweed then you can provide me some information at and I will add them as a source for others who may be looking for milkweed plants.

Download previous email archives here:

November 2014 - Welcome
October 2014 - Migration

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