Each winter, thousands of monarch butterflies call Goleta their winter home and this year is no exception.
During the annual Thanksgiving Count of monarch populations throughout California, over 40,000 monarchs were counted at Ellwood Mesa.
Since 2007 the City of Goleta has offered Ellwood visitors the opportunity to hear from on-site docents. The docent program enhances the visitors’ experience by sparking curiosity, helping visitors build observational skills, and providing information about butterfly biology, behaviors and migration. These community volunteers are present at the grove each Saturday and Sunday (weather permitting) from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and lead field trips for school and community groups during the week.
In the morning and on cool days, the monarchs hang in large clusters on the eucalyptus trees, and can be seen basking in the sun and flying throughout the grove on warm afternoons. The monarchs are most active during their mating season in early February before they begin their migration northeast to the western Rockies.
The City of Goleta is fortunate to have multiple monarch overwintering sites, the largest of which is Ellwood Main Monarch Aggregation Site, located along Devereux Creek on the City-owned Ellwood Mesa Open Space – also known as Sperling Preserve.