California's final monarch butterfly count is in, and it's even better than last year
Published in Science & Technology News
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The final tallies are in, and it’s been another good year for monarch butterflies in California.
In total, 335,479 of the important pollinators were counted across 272 overwintering spots across the state from Nov. 12 through Dec. 4, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, an international nonprofit organization that organizes the counts annually.
That’s a notable jump from 2021, when 247,237 were counted in California, and 2020, when 1,899 were counted, according to the Xerces Society’s data.
“We can all celebrate this tally,” said Emma Pelton, a senior endangered species conservation biologist at the Xerces Society and the organization’s lead on western monarchs. “A second year in a row of relatively good numbers gives us hope that there is still time to act to save the western migration.”
The majority of the 335,000 monarch butterflies overwintered in groves in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
In Santa Barbara County, 137,464 monarchs were counted while 133,112 were counted in San Luis Obispo County, according to the Xerces Society. That’s up from the 97,025 in Santa Barbara County and 91,766 in San Luis Obispo County counted in 2021, the Xerces Society’s data show.
The remaining monarchs were spread out across overwintering sites along the Golden State’s coast.
“More than 250 people participated, which is really, really incredible and marks the greatest level of community engagement in the project’s history,” Isis Howard, an endangered species conservation biologist with the Xerces Society, said in a press conference Tuesday. “This important work is volunteer-powered ... and we truly couldn’t do this work without the dedicated community of volunteers, partners and funders.”
Among San Luis Obispo County sites, the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove saw the highest number of local overwintering monarchs with 24,128 counted. It was also the third-largest site in the state.
The area around Canopy Trail in Montaña de Oro State Park was second with more than 13,000 monarchs overwintering, according to the Xerces Society’s data.
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