“These butterflies migrate thousands of miles, but the more amazing part is that even with four or five generations between them, they still return to these same branches,” explained Charis Van der Heide, who is a docent at the Coronado Butterfly Preserve, which is owned and managed by The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County. As coordinator of the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count for The Xerces Society, Van der Heide also keeps track of the number of butterflies who overwinter on the California coast and beyond. “If it weren’t for the citizen science, we wouldn’t know nearly as much as we do about the butterflies,” said Van der Heide, who spoke about the history and science of the Ellwood Main Butterfly Grove on Saturday during the preserve’s Conservation Day festivities.
The event was put on by The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County to kick off the monarch’s overwintering season and featured arts and crafts for kids, as well as educational booths, music, and face painting. Janine Garfinkel and her granddaughter Hannah Berry came to the event to enjoy the butterflies and festivities. Although the butterflies are beginning to arrive now, the season will peak in January. See sblandtrust.org.