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    Posted December 31, 2013 by
    Santa Cruz, California
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Travel photo of the day

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    Flight of the Monarch

    Beginning in October, monarch butterflies overwinter along the coast of California on their migration south to central Mexico. Hard to believe that these delicate looking creatures can travel such great distances!

    There are several hundred overwintering sites all along the coastal region of California. We visited two sanctuaries to see the butterflies - Natural Bridges State Beach (where I took the photo above) and Pacific Grove. Though the latter is suppose to be THE place to spot the butterflies, we actually had better luck at Natural Bridges

    The butterflies hibernate until about January when days turns warmer and mating can begin. Females are the first to leave the overwintering sites, heading inland in search of milkweed (Asciepias species) plants to lay their eggs. By early March, overwinter sites are abandoned as the butterflies continue their journey south.

    When it's too cool for the butterflies to flit about, they cluster together on tree limbs rather than flying about. Although we arrived late morning, the grove of trees that comprise the sanctuary is very shady so it was cool. Several large clusters of butterflies hung high above our heads. We had to use binoculars to actually get a close look at them. It's truly an amazing sight!

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