Monarch Butterfly Deaths in Pacific Grove No Cause For Alarm, Experts Say

Something is killing monarch butterflies wintering in Pacific Grove’s Monarch Grove Sanctuary.

Monarch butterflies bathed in sunshine in their winter habitat in Angangueo, Mexico.

Several hundred of the black-and-orange butterflies were found the past few weeks with abdomens missing, and people visiting the sanctuary were growing alarmed.

“We were getting a number of calls,” said Lori Mannel, executive director of the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, which has docents at the sanctuary.

Was it natural or something extraordinary threatening to deal a setback to the renovated sanctuary? Scientists who have worked with the museum and city to improve things for migratory monarchs, that winter on the Central Coast from November to February, say there is nothing to be alarmed about.

“Based on what we’re observing, it’s not out of the normal process of nature,” Mannel said Friday, a day after the city and museum issued a joint news release headlined “Pacific Grove Monarch Numbers Still Healthy.”

“It’s not unusual in the larger scheme of things,” Mannel said.

Cooler temperatures during recent nights and mornings may have made the monarchs, which are unable to fly unless it’s 55 degrees or warmer, more susceptible to predators, Mannel said.

“There is no cause for panic, but it’s definitely cause to watch closely,” she said.


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