Posted by dolphingal805 on:
When people first walk up to the Butterflies Alive! enclosure at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History they’re greeted by a docent who reminds them not to touch the butterflies and hands them an identification sheet. It comes in handy because many different varieties of butterflies can be seen: spotted ones, striped ones, blue ones, brown ones, and a couple different kinds of orange ones. The docents roam around as well, so if you have any questions, you can ask them. They will make sure you abide by not touching the live butterflies but if they find a dead one, they will hold it so you’ll have a close look at one that won’t fly away. The butterflies that have passed on are replenished from the Museum’s nursery. At any one time a thousand butterflies flutter around the structure, sometimes resting on the mesh walls or a flower, or tasting the fruit snacks left out for them. Among the plethora of species are the familiar Swallowtails and Monarchs.
Speaking of Monarchs, if a mere thousand butterflies aren’t enough for you, wait until winter and visit one of our local Monarch groves. From November through March, Monarchs gather by the several thousands at Ellwood, Tecolote Canyon, and Refugio State Beach. If you don’t mind driving up the coast an hour or so, you can see even more. The biggest butterfly bash I’ve ever attended was at Pismo State Beach in February. Over a hundred thousand Monarchs hung from Eucalyptus trees and darted around, sometimes landing on their guests.
The Museum of Natural History may not have those numbers, but the diversity definitely makes up for it and gives a good learning experience. Of course it’s also fun to watch them float about and chase each other. And you don’t have to go far because the Museum is close to town, right behind the Mission. But hurry because the exhibit comes down September 21.