​Butterfly Season on the Central Coast

November 16th, 2016

Butterfly Season on the Central Coast

Each year the Central Coast is home to thousands of vibrant orange and black Monarch butterflies. They start flying in from late October through February and can be found clustering on the limbs of Eucalyptus trees.


Located 33 miles South of Cayucos is the Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove. The grove is easily accessible and is located on State Highway 1 at the south boundary of the city limits of Pismo Beach. It is one of the largest groves in the United States hosting an average of 25,000 butterflies annually over the last 5 years. Spectators come from all over the Central Coast and throughout the state to view the Monarchs.


5 Frequently asked question

  • Why do Monarchs migrate to the Central Coast?

Basically, they like the weather. The central coast has an ideal microclimate for their winter habitat. The tall Eucalyptus and Monterey Cypress trees provide shelter and canopy for thermal stability.

Monarchs spend summers as far north as Canada and Monarchs west of the Rockies come to Coastal California as well. Some may travel as far as 2000 miles to reach these sites.


  • How do they find their way?

The grand-offspring of the original butterflies migrate instinctively, often several thousands of miles to winter sites located in Mexico and California. Studies indicate that sensors in the monarch’s antennae are key to migration.

  • How long do they live?

The Monarchs that visit Pismo Beach are a special variety. They have a life span of six months as opposed to that of common Monarchs who live only six weeks. This can be attributed to a unique fat storing system. However, even with an extended life span, those butterflies that leave in March will never return.

  • What do Monarchs eat?

Monarchs store enough fat so that most of them do not need to eat when they are overwintering. That is why it is so important to have flowering plants available along their spring and fall flyways. They do need to drink during the winter, so it is crucial that water or dew is available to them.

To take a walk through the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove is like walking through an art exhibit. Each cluster of butterflies represents nature’s magnificent work of art. The towering eucalyptus trees allow the sun to shine through, which in turn shows off the colors of the butterflies and allows great viewing of Monarchs in flight. The walk through the grove is flat and easy for all to enjoy, so if you’re coming for a visit to Shoreline Inn…on the beach during the next few months, why not plan a side-trip to the Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove?

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