|THOSE LITTLE SPECKS OF ORANGE ARE BUTTERFLIES|
This week's arts and culture column concerns a field trip I recently took to the Central Coast of California. It begins like this:
The Pismo State Beach Butterfly Grove stakes its claim as the largest monarch butterfly grove on the West Coast. Each year when it begins to get cold, the monarchs begin a migration of up to 2,500 miles, from as far north as Canada to as far south as Mexico. A smallish grove of eucalyptus trees on the Central Coast’s Pismo Beach is one of their stopovers.
The butterflies are in residence roughly from late October through February. They cluster on the trees and hang by the thousands in thrilling orange curtains.
Recently, I spent the weekend with some friends in Santa Maria. On Sunday morning we headed up to the grove. For a minute, I couldn’t see what the fuss was about. Where were all the butterflies? Why weren’t they floating about our heads and dazzling us?
Then I looked through one of the available telescopes, I saw the well-camouflaged monarchs lounging in the trees and began to discern the almost unbelievably large clusters, many feet long, hanging here and there high up in the eucalyptus branches. As of Dec. 2, their number was estimated at 20,000.
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