The Monarchs are Back and So Are the Tourists

It's Monarch Mania in Santa Cruz.

You start with one....
You start with one....
Forget those swallows coming back to Capistrano. It was Monarch Mania in Santa Cruz this week as the colorful butterflies have returned to their winter home at Natural Bridges State Park.

The number of orange and black flutterers was up over last year, according to Ranger Alyse Lui, from 1,200 and change to over 5,000. However, it's nothing like back in the heyday a decade ago, when 100,000 Monarchs took over the park.

(Trivia question, answer at bottom: What do you call a large group of butterflies?)

They come from Colorado and the Pacific Northwest. They can fly 3,000 miles. This year's Monarchs are the great-great grandchildren of the ones who were here last year (see photo of naturalist information).

Still, tourists were in awe and cameras clicked all day long Monday. 

P.S.: No, Monarchs don't have ears, despite the signs asking people to shhhh. However, Lui said, lower-toned voices cast vibrations they can feel and may spook them. A cell phone or high pitched voice would have no effect, she said. 

Here's the information about the park: It costs $10 to park a car in the park...but here's a hint: You can park in back of the park (make a right on Delaware and walk in the back entrance; or park on Swift and walk into the park). 

Ans: The group of butterflies is called a lek, a swarm or a rabble. 


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