• Butterflies

    Early Thanksgiving Counts Show a Critically Low Monarch Population in California

    Xerces Society are still completing the count for this year, but preliminary results from the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count (WMTC) show disturbingly low numbers of monarch butterflies overwintering in California.

    Preliminary count results from 97 sites, which includes many of the most important overwintering groves, show only 20,456 monarchs. In 2017, these sites accounted for 77% of the total monarch overwintering population, hosting approximately 148,000 monarchs. The 2018 numbers represents an 86% decline from 2017—which was already a low population year.

    We were not expecting this to be a great year because we knew it had been a rough season in the breeding and migratory range, but it’s looking worse than anyone had expected. If the rest of the Thanksgiving Count data show the same trend as these sites, we anticipate seeing less than 30,000 butterflies overwintering in California this winter. In comparison, last year there were more than 192,000 butterflies counted; in 1997, it was estimated that more than 1 million overwintered; and research suggest that there were at least 4.5 million monarchs overwintering in California in the 1980s.

    If you want to read more about the count and what may be causing this abrupt fall in numbers, please see an article on our blog, (https://xerces.org/2018/11/29/critically-low-monarch-population-in-california/).

    Helen Johnson Leaves $800,000 Endowment to Museum

    Monarch Butterfly Moves Toward Endangered Species Act Protection

    Feds Issue Initial Positive Finding on Petition Following 90 Percent Decline

    A female Monarch photographed in Pacific Grove last February (2013)

    A female Monarch photographed in Pacific Grove last February (2013)

    Read more…»

    City Council OKs Resumption of Monarch Tagging

    Monarch Overwintering Report 2013-14

    Funded by the Helen Johnson Monarch Fund, this is the Summary of population trends in Central California’s Monterey County six overwintering sites. It was produced by Moria L. Robinson of the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History.
    Monarch Report 2013-14

    New Butterfly Pavilion Coming to Museum

    The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History announces that they are designing a live, native Butterfly Pavilion and a permanent monarch gallery. Visitors to Monterey as well as residents can experience butterflies close up all year, if the planning grant just received by the Museum results in an envisioned “butterfly pavilion” as planned. Read more…»

    75 Years of Celebrating Butterflies

    by Dixie Layne

    Nate Harvey and Connor Bo 2012The costumes are ready, the bands are arranged, banners are set to wave, and the air is filling with excitement as Pacific Grove prepares for its annual Butterfly Parade and Bazaar on Oct. 5th.  For 75 years, Pacific Grove’s schools have joined together in the fall to form a parade that welcomes the monarchs back to their overwintering home, Butterfly Town USA – America’s Last Hometown.  This year the parade will line up at its host school, Robert H. Down Elementary, and begin its procession at 10:00 a.m. from Pine Street to Lighthouse Avenue and back again. The Bazaar will be held behind the school from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

    1940 Butterfly Festival Ticket edit“Each year the Butterfly Parade takes us into winter – it marks the end of summer and the start of the holiday season,” explains parent and Butterfly Parade Committee member, Elizabeth Harvey. “You can feel a change in the air; it is quintessential fall.” she continues. “It is the first occasion many of our new military families see Pacific Grove in action; they see what Pacific Grove is all about.”

    The 75th anniversary of this iconic event will be marked by a special exhibit celebrating the Parade and Bazaar’s history with photos, memorabilia, and stories from 1939 through 2012. The exhibit’s tent will be part of the Bazaar and open to the public.  Don’t miss this opportunity to visit the exhibit. For many of us it will provide a chance to relive the joy and pride we felt during our own march through the streets of Pacific Grove.

    1939 Butterfly Pageant Program 1st AnnualThe first Butterfly Parade was held in 1939 and was part of a much larger celebration called the “First Annual Butterfly Pageant and Golden Anniversary Celebration,” whose purpose was to mark the City’s 50th anniversary.  According to the event’s Program, the Celebration started at 10:00 a.m. at Pacific Grove’s Municipal Ball Park with a social get-together and impromptu talks; the PTA bazaar booths opened at 11:00, and at noon the Golden Jubilee program began.  At 1:00 p.m. the Kidddie Wheeled Parade started at the Post Office, preceded by the high school band and butterfly banner with the PTA Dad’s Club supervising. Parade judges were Mrs. C.C. Stewart, A.B. Ingram, and Mrs. W.G. Cook. With the parade’s arrival at the Ball Park, prizes were awarded followed by talks about the monarchs, music, a play of four scenes described as an Indian Legend written and performed by residents. Then Leo Weber and his trained horse performed, and the event closed near 10:00 p.m. when the final curtain came down on the play – the history of Pacific Grove performed in six episodes.

    The Pageant was presented again in both 1940 and 1941, but World War II put the Pageant on a five-year hiatus. In 1947, the Pageant was revived as a three day celebration with a Parade of more than 800 children being held the preceding Saturday.

    Ford Times cover Oct 1977 editJayne Dix Gasperson recalls the 1947 Pageant. “It was a big deal. I remember performing as a soloist opening night at the Ball Park.”  News reports of the day and the 1947 program describe more than 150 local actors performing in the Butterfly Play; a lavish production with a set built by The Lighthouse Club and City employees who donated their time. The set included a real waterfall and the representation of a pine forest. The costumes were said to be treated of colorful luminous paint that provided a special effect with the use of a dark light. The Monterey Peninsula Masonic Choir performed, of which Mrs. Gasperson was a member.

    By 1950, the Butterfly Parade and Bazaar was a school event, kept alive by Pine Street School teacher Millie Gehringer and the PTA. The Parade started at Pine Street School and finished at the Boy Scout Hall where the Bazaar was held.  Although there were only 25 children marching in the 1939 Parade, in 1951 more than 1,500 costumed children from public and parochial Pacific Grove elementary schools marched in the Parade, including 34 class groups, two bands, baton groups, school clubs, Scout troops,  decorated horses, bikes, wagons, and costumed dogs and cats. In 1968, First Lady of the United States, Lady Bird Johnson visited Pacific Grove and was welcomed by some local “butterflies” – costumed elementary school children.National Geo 1963

    With thanks to those who have kept this hometown tradition alive for 75 years, we thank this year’s team for reminding us of our heritage; Robert H. Down principal Mrs. Linda Williams, Butterfly Parade Committee co-chairs Steve Rodolf and Rachel Hunter, and Historical Exhibit chair Elizabeth Harvey and her husband James.  And in turn they would all like to thank everyone who contributed to this year’s Parade, Bazaar, and Exhibit.

    Mr  Gary Williams Class 2012 majorettes c1950s edit James, Elizabeth, Connor, Dexter Harvey 2edit 1958 Rbt H Down Marching Band Btrfly Parade



    4th Annual Blessing of the Monarch Sanctuary Sept. 22, 2013

    An overflow group of butterfly enthusiasts joined hands in a circle — that became more like an amoeba — to hear and repeat prayers in the Ohlone language, listen to a chant offered by the Rinpoche, partake in a smudging cleaning ceremony and toss flowers and native herbs into the sanctuary to bless the trees and pray for the return of the butterflies. Louise Ramirez, Tribal Chairwoman of the Ohlone-Castanoan-Esselen Nation of the Central Coast presented a plaque to Mayor Bill Kampe, as well as gifts to Helen Johnson and to Bob Pacelli.

    Young, old, residents and a few surprised tourists took part. The Sanctuary paths are clean and smooth, the butterfly trees are roped off, and butterfly bench donated years ago via Ro Vaccaro has been repaired and powder-coated. All that we need now is some butterflies.

    _MG_0623 copy_MG_0575 copy _MG_0505 copy _MG_0480 copy _MG_0496 copy

    Numbers fluctuate at Pacific Grove Monarch Sanctuary

    After three outings to the Sanctuary this week, each one earlier than  the last, we were unable to conduct an official count. This morning, Sat. March 2, Read more…»

    Monarch counts Jan. 10-11: Pacific Grove down

    Erica Krygsman (Monarch Alert Field Coordinator for Monterey County) and Carly Voight (Xerces Society Butterfly Conservation Specialist) conducted this week’s Monterey County counts on Jan. 10 and 11. The average number of monarchs counted at the Pacific Grove Sanctuary was 10,270, a decrease from last week’s count. Read more…»

    Monarchs at the Pacific Grove Sanctuary

    Bob Pacelli’s morning missive

    Pacific Grove Monarch count is up

    MONARCH ALERT: Erica Krygsman and Tama Olver conducted this week’s Monterey County monarch counts on January 4 and 5. The average number of monarchs counted at the Pacific Grove Sanctuary was 11,645, an increase from last week’s count, while counts at some other sites decreased. Temperatures were very warm both days and and flying and sunning activity was high; in addition, clusters at several sites were smaller, less dense, and occurred on more trees than noted in previous weeks. Both of these factors may have influenced the average number of monarchs counted.
    There are theories that butterflies “ping pong” between sites Read more…»

    Pacific Grove Monarch Numbers Still Healthy

    Supporters of the Pacific Grove Monarch Grove Sanctuary addressed a curious occurrence this week. More than 300 dead monarchs have been observed in the Pacific Grove Monarch Grove Sanctuary over the past several weeks, many with their abdomens missing. “This is consistent with wasp predation, but it is difficult to determine if wasps are solely responsible.” asserted Francis Villablanca, Ph.D., the science advisor for Cal Poly State University’s Monarch Alert Program. “This predation on the monarchs should not be too alarming.” Read more…»

    Monarch Magic Nov. 26

    The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History presents the annual family-oriented event, “Monarch Magic.”

    At this free event, participants are invited to: See live monarch butterflies in all stages of their life cycle, including egg and chrysalis; Listen to live music―for kids and adults; Make monarch butterfly crafts; Get your face painted like a monarch butterfly; Find out about current research on migrating monarchs; Purchase milkweed (monarchs’ host plants) for inland gardens

    Monarch Magic will be held on Sat., Nov. 26 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.At the  Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, 165 Forest Avenue, Pacific Grove. There is no cost to attend.


    Monarchs in the Sanctuary

    Local residents and tourists alike often ask “how do the monarchs arrive? Is it one at a time? Do they sneak in under cover of darkness? Are there big flocks that block out the sun?” Well, here’s a video that might give you an idea. Taken October 12, 2011 by Bob Pacelli.

    Blessing the butterflies

    If you’ve been reading Cedar Street Times, you know that our butterfly sanctuary got a bit of a haircut last season and that, coupled with a bad year for butterfly numbers made for an abysmal tourist season in the Monarch Sanctuary. So a friend of mine, Bob Pacelli, a professional videographer (Bosnia, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Cambodia for the UN – no amateur, he) who has made a documentary about the Monarchs decided that he would mount a campaign  to get some potted trees to put in between the naked ones to break the wind so to speak so the flutterbies would have something to cling to when they come back (God willin’) next week.

    Enter 87 year-old Helen, who lives at the local old folks’ residence and is a professional Butterfly Benefactor. She is also my buddy. [She’s the one who brought me some plastic lilies that have a solar-powered light so they charge in the daytime and emit a bilious glow at night as a hostess gift one time. I exclaimed as how they would look lovely in my back yard (far away from the eyes of my unfortunate neighbors) but she said no, they had to go in the front. I told her I thought they could be stolen, lovely as they are, but she said if they got stolen to just tell her and she’d buy me some more. Privately I thought I would put them in the bushes and then when she went away I’d pull them out again, but just then she said, “And I’ll drive by often to make sure they’re still working!” So now we have these plastic light-up lilies in our front yard. But I digress.] Read more…»

    They’re on their way

    Jack Beigle was the first to report a Monarch sighting in Pacific Grove — a single “scout” seen last week.

    “It would be interesting to know if the Monarchs sort of glide down a freeway route to  the Sanctuary, or if it is a random distribution  of arrival all over town” said Helen Johnson of Monarch Alert.

    Anyone spotting a Monarch in Pacific Grove over the next few weeks is urged to call Monarch Alert at 1-877-7740, Mailbox 7. If the butterfly is tagged, the tag number would be helpful but it is not vital. Or spotters may call Cedar Street Times at 831-324-4742. We’d like to know where it was seen.

    Monarchs were seen last week in coastal Marin as well. There were five sightings in one day at Muir Beach and three in the Marin Headlands.

    Monarch update: Bye, bye, butterflies

    By Jessica Griffiths

    Well, it’s official: the Monterey County monarch season has come to a close. Our final monarch count at the Pacific Grove Sanctuary was last Wednesday, and it looks like the monarchs finally decided to start dispersing. Our last count was just Read more…»

    Monarch Update

    By Jessica Griffith
    We counted at PG on Friday Feb. 27.

    There were still 11,605 monarchs, and they were all still clustering in the pines and cypress trees outside of the Sanctuary boundaries. Not a single one on any eucalyptus! They were flying around and mating like crazy by 9 a.m. that morning.
    There were still around 900 monarchs at the private property site in Big Sur, but the monarchs are basically gone from all of the other sites. Just that site & the PG Monarch Sanctuary still have butterflies.

    This week will be our very last week of monarch counting, so stay tuned for one more update!

    Butterfly Update

    Hello one and all,

    This weekend was Valentine’s Day, and romance was in the air…or at least it would have been if it hadn’t been pouring rain! (Not that I’m complaining; we need that rain.) While the weather these last few days has put a damper on the monarchs’ mating, now that the skies have cleared they are ready for action. This morning at the Monarch Grove Sanctuary we had dozens of monarchs flying and chasing each other as early as 8:30 AM. If anyone is in the neighborhood in the next couple of days, I suggest you head over there to watch the show the butterflies are putting on.

    Our weekly total today at the Sanctuary was 12,664, which is only slightly down from last week. As I mentioned, their mating and departure was put on hold for the rainy weather, but we fully expect things to kick into high gear this week. There is just one more count left in February, but because there are still so many monarchs left, we will do one more count in the first week of March. We want to keep track of the monarchs as long as they are here.

    That’s it for now. Get out there and enjoy the sunny weather!



  • Cedar Street’s Most Popular

  • Beach Report Card


    This is the Heal the Bay Beach Report Card for Monterey Peninsula beaches, which reports water quality grades, or when relevant, weather advisories. An A to F grade is assigned based on the health risks of swimming or surfing at that location. Look at the "dry" grade for all days except those "wet" days during and within 3 days after a rainstorm. Click here for more information on the Beach Report Card. Click the name of the beach when it pops up for more details, or choose a beach below.

    AsilomarCarmelLovers PointMunicipal Wharf 2 (Monterey)Upper Del Monte Beach (Monterey)San Carlos Beach (Cannery Row)Stillwater Cove (Pebble Beach)Spanish Bay

    adapted from Heal the Bay, brc.healthebay.org
    subscribe via RSS
    stay safe on the go: app for iOS or Android