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2020-08-30 Print

PG Museum’s Hardcore Natural History Series takes a Closer Look at the Endangered Monarch Butterfly

In the 1980s, more than 4 million monarch butterflies wintered in forested groves along the California coast.


Pacific Grove, CA, August 31, 2020 — In the 1980s, more than 4 million monarch butterflies wintered in forested groves along the California coast. Today that figure stands at less than 30,000, according to recent scientific tallies.

Monarchs in California have been in decline due to loss of habitat, including destruction of their overwintering sites and loss of both milkweed for caterpillars and flowering resources to fuel migration.

The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History takes great interest in these famous orange-and-black insects. As part of its Hardcore Natural History series, it will host three upcoming programs devoted to better understanding monarchs, now under government consideration for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Led by renowned experts in the field, these virtual programs take place on Sept. 17, Oct. 15 and Nov. 12. Cost is $5 for museum members and $10 for non-members. Those interested may register and purchase tickets here, although to participate they must be registered by 5 p.m. on the day of each event.

Following is an outline of the series:

Planting for Monarchs with Emma Pelton

Sept. 17, 6:30 p.m.

Join us as we speak to Emma Pelton, a senior conservation biologist at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. Peloton leads western monarch conservation efforts — including developing best management practices for monarch habitat. She will teach participants what to keep in mind when planting for monarchs, especially around overwintering sites. She is particularly interested in overwintering site protection and restoration in California, and partners with many land managers and community scientists to improve management in these critical habitats. Pelton also serves on the Monarch Joint Venture advisory committee and the AZA SAFE Monarch steering committee.

The Price of Pesticides with Sarah Hoyle

Oct. 15, 6:30 p.m.

Join us for a discussion of recent research on pesticide contamination of milkweed in California's Central Valley. This program will be led by Sarah Hoyle, a researcher for the Xerces Society, who joined scientists from University of Nevada, Reno, in sampling milkweed plants from various landscapes in the Central Valley, analyzing them for pesticide residues. They found widespread contamination of milkweed at levels that could harm monarch caterpillars. Hoyle will review the research and its implications for monarch conservation.

Small But Mighty: Monarch Butterfly Migration and Overwintering with Jessica Griffiths

Nov. 12, 6:30 p.m.

Every fall, thousands of monarch butterflies migrate to Monterey County from all across the western United States to spend the winter clustering together at special overwintering sites. But how do they get here? And why do they spend the winter in certain groves of trees, but not others? How do researchers know where the monarchs come from, or how many there are? Join Jessica Griffiths as she shares what we know and don't know about monarch migration and overwintering, and how we can help protect this magnificent butterfly and its habitat in Monterey County. Griffiths has worked with monarchs on the Central Coast for almost 20 years, in both Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties. Over the years, she has trained hundreds of volunteers — including those from PGMNH — on how to count monarch butterflies, and she is currently the SLO County coordinator for the annual Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count.

For more information visit

Marci Bracco Cain
Chatterbox PR
Salinas, CA 93905
(831) 747-7455

Contact Info
Marci Bracco Cain
Chatterbox PR
Salinas, CA 93905

Phone: (831) 747-7455