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Butterfly counters record 'massive jump' in Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove numbers

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Angel Russell
Wednesday morning, Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove counters recorded more than 14,000 butterflies fluttering within the trees.

Monarch butterflies have arrived at the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove, and after years of decline, California State Parks said the amount flying in is promising.

Wednesday morning, Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove counters recorded more than 14,000 butterflies fluttering within the trees.

“It is wonderful news! I can’t believe that we are seeing these numbers," California State Parks interpreter Danielle Bronson said. "It’s just bringing so much joy to not only our state staff, but also the public who are coming in and being able to see them so early in the season.”

Bronson is ecstatic to see these numbers, especially since the monarch butterflies were plummeting to record lows throughout the last decade, putting the beautiful orange and black insects closer to extinction.

“Two years ago it was at 6,000 and last year it was at 200," Bronson said. "So having this jump up in the count for our grove this year is just wonderful news.”

Besides the numbers being up, Bronson said the butterflies arrived earlier than expected this year. It's uncertain as to why, or what that means for the population.

“They may leave early this year as they came early this year. We don’t know until we see it," Bronson said. "Historically, the peak season for us is between Thanksgiving and Christmas, hopefully, that’s the same for us this year. We just don’t quite know yet.”

Bronson is encouraging the community to help the species by planting native nectar flowers around their home, since the flowers provide a source of energy for the butterflies.

Bronson said the monarch butterflies could use all the help they can get.

“We continue to want more! We have a long road to go until we get back up to where we were when I was a little girl," Bronson said. "But this is a hopefully giant step for the monarch population and we hope we continue to see that upward tick.”

Bronson said the next few weeks will be a great time for people to check out the butterflies seeking shelter among the eucalyptus and cypress trees at the grove in Pismo Beach.

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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