I was lucky enough to see the monarch butterflies while they were at their overwintering site at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Newark. As part of “butterfly season” the farm hosts monarch butterfly info sessions in December and January where you can learn all about monarchs, their life cycle, their migration patterns, and how we can help sustain their habitats and food sources.
I probably learned about the life cycle in grade school, but hearing about the different stages from an Ardenwood docent was a different experience and I learned so much! After the lesson, docents take you out to the overwintering site to see the butterflies in person.
Butterflies in the sky! And they’re up in this tree, I promise!
I’m not one for insects, but butterflies are a definite exception. Monarch butterflies are fascinating! They migrate from Canada down to California or Mexico (depending on what side of the Rocky Mountains they reside) and back. It takes 3-5 generations of butterflies to complete the full migration loop. Each generation lives for 2-8 weeks, but the super generation can live for 6-8 months! The butterflies at Ardenwood are of the super generation bunch and they hang out here until it gets a bit warmer for them to survive the journey back north.
The docents brought monoculars for us to view the monarchs up close. Nerd alert: I want one now!
In the video you can see the little fluttering specks moving around the eucalyptus trees. It’s way cooler in person and even cooler if you have a monocular!
After admiring the butterflies we visited the greenhouse to see the different butterfly stages. The caterpillar stage lives off of milkweed…
And then we wandered the farm. There were some animals, blooms, and old equipment. Most of the attractions become interactive features in the Spring. Otherwise, there’s lots of room to run around or sit for a picnic.
I’m inspired to visit the monarch butterflies every overwintering season now. Maybe I’ll come back to Ardenwood or discover another overwintering site in California. Adventures!