Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterflies

During their over wintering season from mid-October through mid-February, clusters of monarch butterflies can be viewed at the Monarch Grove Sanctuary at 1073 Lighthouse Avenue. With the entrance located just off Lighthouse Avenue, the city park is open from sunrise to sundown and is free for all visitors. The best time to see the monarchs is noon to 3:00 p.m. when the sun is shining brightest on their trees and when a docent is always on duty.


How do they find us? Like stained-glass windows, drifting gently down shafts of sunlight rest in the trees of Pacific Grove, the migrating monarchs appear each October. Their great-grandparents were the butterflies that wintered here last year. The female, who left here last February and laid her eggs on the underside of a milkweed leaf, imprinted her offspring with a mysterious genetically-coded message. And that monarch passed the message on to her offspring and that offspring to hers and that offspring to hers. And each of these generations migrated further and further north.

Then, emerging from a chrysalis on the furthest northern milkweed on the continent, the fourth generation becomes a traveler who must undertake a strenuous journey to a sheltered microclimate necessary for survival of its species. It comes to Pacific Grove.

Every autumn, thousands of beautiful monarchs flock to the delicately-balanced microclimate of the habitat at the Monarch Grove Sanctuary. They cluster on the trees in thick bunches, looking like triangular dead brown leaves until, warmed by the morning sun, they spread their wings and drift among the branches.

The microclimate of the Monarch Grove Sanctuary is composed of Monterey pines and eucalyptus trees in a closed canopy, natural buffering windbreaks, a temperature that remains in the moderate zone all winter, close proximity to nectar sources and morning fog for moisture.

The butterflies have endeared themselves to the townspeople in a unique symbiosis. They bring us their grace and beauty in return for their shelter. We are honored to be visited each year by their presence.


Pacific Grove is a seaside community on the Monterey Peninsula, which is famous for sheltering over wintering monarch butterflies. Every October, thousands of fluttering monarchs arrive from the north and are protected in a special microclimate of eucalyptus trees and Monterey pines.

Each October since 1939, Pacific Grove has celebrated their arrival with a welcoming Butterfly Parade, featuring our school children dressed in wings. A 1939 city ordinance authorizes a $1,000 fine for "molesting a butterfly in any way." The people of Pacific Grove have had a long love affair with their butterfly guests and take their protection very seriously.

The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History Association maintains a program of Butterfly Docents who greet visitors and share the story of the monarchs through their "habitat chats."

Local volunteers are actively restoring Pacific Grove's monarch butterfly habitat. Hundreds of new trees and flowering nectar plants have been added by volunteers--many citizens working together, planting, weeding, and watering. The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History Association and its volunteers strive to ensure that their community will always remain a peaceful sanctuary for the monarch butterflies.

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