[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: The Monarchs Are On the Coast | 01-24-2013
Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Fog
Fog
59°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
May 30
2013 - Powerhouse Fire breaks out in San Francisquito Canyon; will destroy 30 homes & 28 outbuildings [story]


Let's Go Outside | Commentary by Evelyne Vandersande
| Thursday, Jan 24, 2013

evelynevandersande_mugMonarchy is not taking over. No king, queen or emperor is in Coronado; I am referring to the large, migratory orange and black butterflies that are spending the winter there in the eucalyptus grove.

I try to keep my articles about nature in Santa Clarita, but this is such a wonderful experience. It’s something you expect to read about only in National Geographic. It is not so far from home; it’s in Goleta, which is above Isla Vista, close to UCSB, so about an hour and 45 minutes from Santa Clarita.

 

What is going on there?

The monarch butterflies cannot survive cold winter temperatures of the northern states, so they migrate south and spend the winter in this grove of eucalyptus.

Photos by Paul A. Levine

Photos by Paul A. Levine

I first arrived there on a foggy day and was looking for the butterflies when I noticed the branches were covered with a sort of brown fur. After a second look, I realized there were thousands of butterflies amassed in grapes along the branches, with their wings closed. As soon as the sun came out, clouds of butterflies rose into the air, and I felt like Alice in Wonderland. It was such an incredible, beautiful sight and such a rare situation to be surrounded by all those delicate and colorful creatures that the memory makes me smile.

The butterflies are here from January to March to escape the cold weather. They will leave in March, so plan your visit now: Take Highway 126; it turns into the 101 North. Exit Storke Road/Glen Annie and head south (away from the mountains). Turn right on Hollister Avenue, drive about 1.2 miles and take a left on Coronado Drive. The entrance of the preserve is at the end of Coronado Drive. It is free; it is an easy, flat walk, but it can get muddy, so wear good shoes.

After the preserve, you can take a lovely walk on the buff with a view of the ocean, take a picnic and have a wonderful time.

 

monarchs5Why are they here?

It is their roosting spot and they spend the winter there, safe from the cold. Monarch butterflies are the only insects that can fly 2,500 miles to a warmer climate.

How they can find this roost is a big mystery. Their life span is short, so the monarchs coming to roost this winter are the great-great-grand children of the butterflies that left the previous spring.

We do not know how their homing system works; we can track their whereabouts because some butterflies get tagged on their wings. The tag can be checked, and it serves as proof of the long journey of a specific individual.

We came to the conclusion their homing system is a combination of the position of the sun in the sky and their use of the Earth’s magnetic field for orientation.

Monarch butterflies are poisonous or distasteful to birds and mammals because of the poison contained in milkweed they consume as larvae. The bright colors of the larvae and adults are thought to function as warning colors.

monarchs3Let’s review the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. The egg lasts about four to six days, and the caterpillar breaks out of the egg (this is known as the larva stage). The caterpillar will eat as much as possible for about 12 to 16 days and will grow to about two inches long. Then the caterpillar stops eating, spins its cocoon and becomes a chrysalis for about nine to 12 days. Another miracle will occur when the most gorgeous butterfly emerges, breaking free from the cocoon and  letting its wings get some strength before the first flight.

Butterflies are beautiful and incredible insects. Their wings are not well designed for such a long journey;  some research indicates they preserve their energy in flight by gliding on air currents as they travel south, but we really do not understand how they can handle such a long and dangerous flight when even a rain storm can result in death.

Take a little drive to their wintering spot, choose a sunny day and you will have an unforgettable experience. I hope you will be able to appreciate them even more by knowing the difficulty of their long journey.

 

Evelyne Vandersande has been a docent at Placerita Canyon Nature Center for 27 years. She lives in Newhall.

 

monarch2 monarchs4 monarchs6

 

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

1 Comment

  1. Debbie Krubsack (scvguide) says:

    Evelyne, thank you for sharing this. It truly is an amazing experience that should not be missed. For the price of a few gallons of gasoline, you can have a memory that will never leave you! I will never forget both my visit to the butterfly grove and the bluff. We timed it to watch the sunset from the bluff. (Bring a flashlight!)

Commentary Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: INFO (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
Related Content
RECENT COMMENTARY
Friday, May 29, 2015
The writer continued with the myth that Mike Morell, former CIA deputy director, "Bush's intelligence briefer," was interviewed on the MSNBC show, “Hardball,” where he “admitted that the administration intentionally misrepresented intelligence." This slop is the antithesis of fact and truth.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
The creosote bush is the most drought-tolerant plant in North America - and scientists have confirmed it possesses analgesic, antiseptic, antiviral and antibiotic properties. Extracts of creosote have even been found to kill some types of cancer cells.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Last week, after several alumni complaints, Boston University president Robert Brown condemned the racist tweets, sending an email to faculty: “We are disappointed and concerned by statements that reduce individuals to stereotypes on the basis of a broad category such as sex, race or ethnicity.” Even so, the school refused to rescind Professor Gundy's employment offer.
Monday, May 25, 2015
I pray that someday we won’t have a need to add any more graves of veterans lost in battle. I pray that war can become a memory of the wrong way to accomplish something. All of us who served and are still serving abhor the very thought of war and conflict. There are better ways to settle problems.
Sunday, May 24, 2015
Memory loss is not a normal part of aging. Some occasional loss is normal, but Alzheimer’s actually causes the brain to malfunction and die. When this happens, there are big gaps in memory. This is when friends and family should become concerned and seek medical advice.
Sunday, May 24, 2015
All of the buildings and other structures you saw during the recent Cowboy Festival take a lot of time and effort to keep in shape. For that, the Historical Society needs you to get involved. Then, at the next Cowboy Festival, you can show folks what you did when you walk up to see the canons fire or a band play.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
2013 - Powerhouse Fire breaks out in San Francisquito Canyon; will destroy 30 homes & 28 outbuildings [story]
Valencia High’s Chad Le Duff won his first two matches in the CIF Southern Section Individual Boys Tennis Sectionals at Cate High in Carpinteria.
SCV Sports Report: May 29, 2015
Homicide detectives are investigating the death of a man who is suspected to have overdosed on heroin, while to others were arrested in connection with the death and the theft of the victim's property.
2 Arrested in Connection with Murder, Theft from Victim
Los Angeles County supervisors recently approved an update to the rules for how often residents in unincorporated communities can host yard sales.
County Supes OK New Rules, More Days For Yard Sales
Los Angeles County Fire officials responded to a brush fire at a Castaic Lake campground Friday afternoon.
Students’ Rocket Project Goes Awry, Sparks Brush Fire
Several lined up, almost as if they were checking their lotto tickets — and for a few, there was a nice cash windfall.
Wilk Hosts Unclaimed Property Workshop at Senior Center
One of the Santa Clarita Valley’s oldest churches is welcoming the community to celebrate its 124th anniversary Sunday, officials said.
Newhall Presbyterian Church Celebrating 124th Birthday
Single Mothers Outreach announced the 2015 Empowering HeArts honorees and artists at an evening soiree held May 28 at the Sand Canyon home of Moe and Linda Hafazi.
Single Mothers Outreach Announces 2015 Empowering HeArts Honorees
The Assembly moved universal preschool in California one step closer with the passage of AB 47, the Preschool for All Act of 2015.
Preschool Bill Heading to Assembly for Vote
The writer continued with the myth that Mike Morell, former CIA deputy director, "Bush's intelligence briefer," was interviewed on the MSNBC show, “Hardball,” where he “admitted that the administration intentionally misrepresented intelligence." This slop is the antithesis of fact and truth.
Lies of Convenience
1987 - Director John Landis acquitted of charges in deaths of Vic Morrow and two child actors on Valencia set of "Twilight Zone: The Movie" [story]
Members of Santa Clarita’s Just Serve Mormon Helping Hands are set to help beautify a section of Whites Canyon Road on Sat. May 30, officials said Friday.
Volunteers to Spruce Up Whites Canyon Saturday
California Highway Patrol officers were led on an early morning car chase Thursday from West Los Angeles to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, officials said.
Police Chase Ends at Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, see how SCVi Charter School is allowing students to dive deep into American history. Click the link to see that story and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Thursday, May 28, 2015
High Speed Rail Authority officials are hosting an open house Monday for Santa Clarita.
High Speed Rail Open House Meeting Monday
The Valencia Flyers Junior A Hockey Club is excited to announce our 4th annual Showcase Event! Last years event had over 100 participants on the ice and representation from multiple NCAA Division 1 & 3 programs, ACAHA Division 1 programs, the USHL, NAHL, BCHL and several New England Prep schools. Several players received opportunities directly from this event. Now with the Flyers and the WSHL moving to Tier 2 status we anticipate even more scouts and opportunities for players! This years showcase is open to players born in 1995 through 2001.
2015 Junior A Flyers Showcase Set for July 17-19
Looking to a strong future, The Master’s College women’s volleyball team has signed Modesto, California native, Haley Taylor.
TMC Volleyball Signs Taylor
A Rosamond man arrested for kidnapping one day after he was arrested for burglary is due back in court at the end of next month for another hearing.
Kidnapping and Burglary Suspect Due Back in Court
The Master’s College women’s cross country and track & field teams bolsters its rosters with the addition of Valencia, California native, Rylee Bishop.
Bishop Signs with TMC Track and Field
A man arrested for possession of several pounds of methamphetamine skipped his court date and has a half-million-dollar bench warrant out for his arrest, officials said Thursday.
Meth Trafficking Suspect Skips Out on Court Date
Displaying excellence in the classroom as well as on the diamond, Steve Karkenny (Chatsworth, CA), Jonathan Popadics (Boise, ID), Bryce Clancy (Phoenix, AZ), and Justyn Lee (Woodland Hills, CA) have been named 2015 Baseball NAIA Scholar-Athletes.
Four Masters Ballplayers Earn Scholar Athlete Honors
The Valencia boys volleyball team lost to Mira Costa in the first round of the CIF Southern California Division 1 playoffs.
KHTS Santa Clarita Sports Report: May 28th, 2015