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December 27, 2011 > Migrate into a new year with monarch butterflies

Migrate into a new year with monarch butterflies

By Isabella Ohlmeyer

Fly into 2012 by viewing over 4,000 beautiful monarch butterflies during the New Year's Day Butterfly Walk on January 1 at Ardenwood Historic Farm. Each year Monarch butterflies migrate to the East Bay to escape freezing temperatures and winter storms in the North, and create a wonderful viewing opportunity for locals.

Monarch butterflies are known for their black and orange markings and distinctive white dots on their wings. The difference between a male and female monarch butterfly is that the female has darker black veins than the male, and the male is larger in size. Although it is a six-footed insect, only four can be seen so naturalists refer to them as a four-footed.

These particular butterflies have a lifespan of up to ten weeks although the "super generation" of monarch butterflies, born in the fall, can live six to eight months.

Monarch butterflies need to live in at least a 55 degree temperature in order to survive, be active and fly. During their mating time, the butterflies search for nectar from flowers in order to gain nourishment and rejuvenation. Female monarchs begin laying eggs the first time they mate, and during their lifetime can lay between 100-300 eggs.

All eggs are deposited on milkweed. Milkweed is poisonous for other insects and species; therefore butterflies have an advantage in making it their home, ensuring protection from dangerous species and threats such as birds and snakes.

Visitors to Ardenwood can see monarchs clustered in the eucalyptus groves by participating in a guided trip or viewing them on their own. Monarch Hikes are a half-mile to the monarch grove; some geared toward children, while others are structured for adult interests with slideshows and interesting facts about the monarch butterflies and their migration during the winter season. Spotting scopes are provided in all the programs so people can get a close look at these insects and other species.

On December 31 at 11 a.m., a special slideshow presentation will focus on the butterflies with a walk at 1:30 p.m. The New Year's Day Monarch Butterfly Walk will be at 11:30 a.m. with another walk at 1:30 p.m.

Guided walks and programs for all ages continue through February 12. Come and learn about these beautiful creatures!

Beginning January 1, 2012, there will be a one dollar increase in the Ardenwood Historic Farm admission fee. For adults, admission will be $3; for individuals ages 17 and under, $2; and ages four and under are free. For more information on this program and others held at the Ardenwood Historic Farm, call (510) 544-2797 or visit

Monarch Butterfly Walks
Dec 31
11 a.m., 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, Jan 1
11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m.

Visit the Monarchs
Every Thursday and Friday in Jan
2 p.m.
Every Saturday and Sunday in Jan
1:30 p.m.

Meet the Monarchs
Saturday, Jan 7, 21 and Sunday, Jan 15 and 29
11 a.m. - noon

Monarchs for Kids
Saturday, Jan 14, 28 and Sunday, Jan 8, 22
11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

California Western Monarch Day
Sunday, Feb 5
11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Farewell to the Monarchs
Sunday, Feb 12
10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Ardenwood Historic Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont
(510) 544-2797

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