A late January view of a Mojave Desert Monarh Overwintering site

Paul Cherubini monarch at saber.net
Fri Jan 30 00:40:53 EST 2009

Hard to believe, but monarchs regularly overwinter in small
numbers (dozens to hundreds) in arid desert locations such
as in the Saline Valley in California - a moon crater shaped
valley about midway inbetween Mount Whitney and Death Valley:

Distant aerial view (orange dot is the cluster site location):

Closer aerial view (orange circle is the cluster site location):

Here's a January 27, 1990 midday view of the monarchs nectaring
and sunning themselves on the mulefat bushes:

Here's a early December 1996 midday view of some the monarchs
at this same location clustering in Tamarisk bushes:

The Saline Valley overwintering monarchs are just like the
permanent coastal monarch overwintering sites in that
most mating and cluster break up occurs in February.  The
butterflies are in good condition despite the very low daytime
humidity (in the 5-25% range), scant winter rainfall and the
fact the only evergreen vegetation in mid and late winter
are bushes such as tamarisk, mulefat and creosote.

One problem with the Saline Valley habitats, however, is that
roughly once every five years, overnight temps dip into
the teens and freeze most or all of the monarchs.

Paul Cherubini
El Dorado, Calif.


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