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Butterfly Garden

Butterfly News

Where are the butterflies?

Butterflies are very temperature sensitive! When it gets cool, some will hibernate in trees, some will migrate to warmer climates, some do both. Our Monarch butterflies travel to Goleta near Santa Barbara to “overwinter”. There is a grove in a preserve where thousands of Monarchs from west of the Rockies come to cluster close together on Eucalyptus trees for warmth. (Monarchs East of the Rockies migrate to central Mexico.) I took my family to Goleta in January to see the marvel! Scientists come to count them and record the information to evaluate the effects of climate change and habitat destruction. This year the count was 27,000!! In the morning and evening the Monarchs snuggle close together and look just like leaves to those of us standing underneath. We got there on a warm day and marveled to watch the sun rise and warm the butterflies on the branches. First they fanned their wings showing flashes of orange. When they got warm enough, thousands took flight simultaneously as children and adults below “oohed” and “ahhhhed”! Then the air was filled with thousands of flying Monarchs! Everywhere we looked we delighted to watch the spectacle!

I hope you have a chance to take your family there next year. The Monarchs are there from November until February. Last year I took my family there near the end of February and the Monarchs were gone, migrating back to Canada, Baja, New Mexico, Arizona and other states west of the Rockies. That is why we planned the trip this year in January.

27,000 sounds like a lot of Monarchs! But it wasn’t that long ago that the counts were 150,000! Hosp Grove in Carlsbad (across from the Mall) used to be an overwintering site! The Monarchs stopped coming. That is why we have created a butterfly habitat garden at Christa McAuliffe. We are helping our planet by providing necessary pollinator habitat, while we educate our children about science as we emphasize the importance of learning how to care for the environment.

As our days get longer and warmer, we will see the Monarchs return to our garden! Come to help us prepare the habitat for their arrival! Your help is needed! As class size has increased, teachers have an overload of responsibilities! We need you! No experience is needed. Please contact Ellen Bialik:, or stop by room 16 before or after school.

If you would like to learn more about the overwintering site near Santa Barbara, check out this website: