California Travel Tips

Missing Monarch Butterflies

Published on: January 07, 2019


The wintering season for Monarch butterflies is not looking too great in California. Actually, it’s alarming. According to a monitoring group for invertebrate conservation, Xerces Society, the counts are so low this year that on top of the 97% species decline since the 1980s, monarchs at 97 California overwintering sites have dropped from around 148,000 in 2017-2018 winter to just over 20,400 for the 2018-2019 season from November through February.

If you’re heading for one of the well-known Monarch butterfly groves, you may want to leave your expectations at home. However, there are some things the Xerces Society would like you consider as contributions to this situation:

  • Look for milkweed, monarchs, and especially monarch caterpillars, and reporting them on the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper (
  • Plant native milkweed species where appropriate in regions where they naturally occur; typically not within 5–10 miles of overwintering sites in central and northern coastal California.
  • Reduce or eliminate pesticide use, particularly insecticide use. Support agricultural producers who minimize pesticide use and provide wildlife habitat.

Butterfly Festivals & Events

CLAREMONT: Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

  • Pollinator Gardens: Bees, Butterflies, and Hummingbirds January 19, 2019
  • Butterfly Pavilion Opening April 20, 2019
  • Butterflies & Brews June 7, 14, 21 & 28, 2019

FOUNTAIN VALLEY: Monarch Butterfly Day at Mile Square Park February 2, 2019

MARIPOSA: Butterfly Festival May 3-5, 2019

PISMO BEACH: Western Monarch Butterfly Recognition Day February 2, 2019

SANTA CRUZ: Monarch Butterfly Tours January 12, 13 & 19, 2019

VISTA: Butterfly Farms daily April through November

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