Virtual Tour: Visiting the Winter Home of Western Monarch Butterflies
Have you ever seen the amazing assembly of monarch butterflies overwintering along California’s central coast? U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service public affairs specialist Joanna Gilkeson, packed up her camera equipment and drove north along California’s coast to see them for the first time.
“I hope to share the amazing story of monarch migration with people who don’t have the opportunity to personally visit the overwintering grounds,” she said. “Monarchs are declining, and maybe those very people will see these photos and want to help monarchs by planting milkweed or becoming a citizen scientist.”
Gilkeson grew up in Minnesota, where individual monarchs spend their summers looking for nectar and milkweed to lay their eggs before migrating to Mexico for the winter. And from an early age, the butterflies were the topic of many dinner table conversations.
Each summer, her father collected monarch eggs and larva from milkweed in the front yard and reared the monarchs to adulthood, before releasing them back to the wild. Thrilled to see the monarchs in their overwintering grounds, Gilkeson feels like this has brought everything full circle. Monarchs have declined over the last 20 years and Gilkeson believes it’s important to “see their beauty” which she has captured in these photographs.
Join her as she followed the migration of the western monarch butterfly to their overwintering sites in and around Pacific Grove, Calif.
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