Throughout the year, in addition to big mammals and birds, I have the opportunity to photograph some small and fascinating animals such as the Monarch butterflies overwintering in California. Migrating up to a thousand miles or more to escape northern winters, they spend the cold season in Mexico or along the sheltered California coast. “The butterflies form dense clusters with each one hanging with its wing down over the one below it to form a shingle effect. This provides shelter from the rain and warmth for the group. The weight of the cluster help keeps it from whipping in the wind and dislodging the butterflies.” If the warming sun comes out they will start fluttering around and it’s like being in a glittery orange snow globe. The effect is magical!
Sadly, the Monarch population has been dwindling now for a number of years. This particular image was taken last January when their numbers were down to 10% of what was there just a few years ago. Visiting this year, the count is down to just 10% of last year! It’s unknown what the definitive reasons are for the decline. Speculation runs from loss of habitat or food sources to the ongoing drought and global warming. It would be very sad to see them disappear completely.
All Photographs © 2019 John Grusd Photography. All Rights Reserved.