Monarch Butterflies

Considering I specialize in event and wedding photography, this may be the most out of place blog post I’ve ever written… However, I think the blog is a place to share what I’ve been up to, even if it wouldn’t go on the Jensen Sutta Photography website… So, I’m sharing a recent trip to the Ellwood Mesa Open Space, in Santa Barbara, CA.

Every winter, millions of butterflies migrate to Southern California to roost for the winter.  Similar to birds, they head south during the winter and north for the summer (up to 2,500 miles!).  Interestingly, monarch butterflies that are east of the Rocky Mountains head to Mexico for the winter, and those west of the Rockies head to Southern California.  Personally, I’d much rather spend the winter in Santa Barbara than Mexico, but that’s just me.

It’s really an incredible experience to see MILLIONS of monarch butterflies in one place.  Most huddle in masses in the trees, but there are butterflies everywhere!  Here are some images to check out:

ellwood mesa monarch butterfly preserveellwood mesa monarch butterfly preserveellwood mesa monarch butterfly preserve

Websites say December-March are the times to see them at the Ellwood Preserve, but January tends to be the peak time.  It’s a short walk from the parking lot with signs and trails, so perfect for families and kids.  It’s just another amazing thing to check out in the Santa Barbara, California area!

Migrating Santa Barbara Monarch Butterflies in Ellwood Preserve

On a related note, if you have kids who happen to like butterflies, one of the neatest kid’s toys I have ever seen is a butterfly in a jar by wishlantern.  You can fool most adults into thinking its a real butterfly, that’s how lifelike it is!  (

wishlantern butterfly in a jar

  • February 17, 2012 - 12:25 pm

    Brian Bookwalter - Great Place to visit. My mom wrote a book called “Butterfly Beach” about the migration of the Monarch to Santa Barbara. Check it out: http://www.butterflybeachonline.comReplyCancel

    • February 17, 2012 - 12:34 pm

      Jensen - That’s a great book! I found it in the gift shop of the Four Seasons Biltmore.ReplyCancel

  • March 1, 2012 - 10:10 am

    Dawn Letourneau - Wonderful images! Every fall we love to watch the Monarchs hatch up here, knowing they will only be staying with us for a short while. When the kids were younger, we would collect the caterpillars and wait patiently for them to complete their life cycle. Ya know what? Maybe we need to do that again. The kids may consider themselves too old, but I’m not! 😉ReplyCancel

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