Thousands Counted in Promising Start to Thanksgiving Monarch Butterfly Count

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PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 03: A Monarch butterfly lands on a flower at the Rinconada Community Garden on November 03, 2021 in Palo Alto, California. Large populations of Monarch butterflies are being seen breeding for the first time in the urban San Francisco Bay peninsula.  ((Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images))

Western monarch butterflies all but disappeared from coastal California last fall but there are now promising signs of an uptick in numbers.  The Pacific Grove Monarch Sanctuary, which didn’t see a single monarch last winter, recently counted over 13,000 butterflies.  As citizen scientists begin this year’s Thanksgiving monarch butterfly count, we talk with experts about why we’re seeing an unexpected rebound in monarch butterflies, and what it might mean for their future.


David James, entomologist, Washington State University

Emma Pelton, conservation biologist and western monarch lead, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation