This looks like something you would only see on Animal Planet.
But Santa Barbara has one of the largest
Southern California overwintering spots for the Monarch Butterfly.
Until about a month ago this spot was in serious danger of being turned into
multi-million dollar condos. The Friends of the Ellwood Mesa
had two years to raise $20.4 million to purchase the 137
acres and turn it into a preserve. An anonymous donation of $307,000
in the last week of the campaign sealed the deal.
The truly amazing thing about these butterflies is none of them have ever been here
before. During the summer breeding season Monarchs only live for
two to six weeks. So the Butterflies that migrated north last year
are long gone (and I bet it was the trip that killed them!)
These guys are in a hibernation-like state brought on
by the changing weather in the fall. They are lucky, they can live
for up to eight months (or unlucky if you think about the 1000+ mile
flight they have to make to be safe in the winter.)
The fall generation of Monarchs make the migration from the north, and
settle in Eucalyptus groves on the coast of California and in Mexico.
They live through the winter before coming out of the hibernation
state, called "reproductive diapause", at which time they are
ready to usher in the new generation of Monarchs.