Butterfly Town, USA

The Monterey Peninsula, home of the Martine Inn, is located in a rare climate zone that accommodates many migrations of living animals from whales to butterflies. Pacific Grove is known a Butterfly Town USA. Monarch Butterflies return to Pacific Grove every Autumn and the town recognizes their arrival with a parade that has all the elementary school children participating.

The butterflies congregate in a special forested area of Pacific Grove. They hang in long strings from the branches with their wings folded. The underside of their wings is grey and black, unlike the well known top side of traditional orange and black. With their wings folded, the Monarchs resemble bark of the pine trees or dead leaves, thereby camouflaging themselves.

They can fly all the way to/from Canada and Mexico on their migration and, like many of their human admirers, find Pacific Grove the ideal temperate winter resting place. Frequently, on a warm sunny morning, between 10 or 11, the butterflies will begin to move about. It is fascinating to see the string of black and grey begin to come alive — turn to black and orange and flit around. The bottom butterfly lets go and then the others follow suit and suddenly the sky is filled with fluttering Monarch Butterflies, thousands of them.

What makes the migration of this species so unusual? The Monarch butterflies that are here this year have never been here before. They have gone through several generations during the path of migration so none survive the return to Pacific Grove. Scientists believe they rely on the Earth’s magnetic field, position of the sun and the polarizaion of the sun’s rays to find themselves here, year after year. Students from CalPoly have been scientifically counting the butterflies in the Monarch Grove Sanctuary, and are up near the 7000 mark!

We’re having an amazing year! See for yourself by following your own migration, or begin anew, to the comforts of the Martine Inn.

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