Monarch Butterflies, Honey Bees, and Other Pollinators & Their Favorite Plants in Pismo Beach
You’ve colored-by-number some of the important pollinators living in Pismo Beach but there are so many more to learn about!
A pollinator is anything that helps carry pollen from the male part of the flower (stamen) to the female part of the same or another flower (stigma). Butterflies, bees, moths, hummingbirds, bats, beetles, and many flies are all pollinators, as are birds, rabbits and the wind! Flowers’ colors and scents attract pollinators. When they drink the nectar, pollen attaches to their bodies distributing it to other flowers allowing plants to reproduce. Without pollinators, fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, and other food that comes from plants can’t grow. Help and protect pollinators by planting native flowering plants without using harmful herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. If you plant native milkweed varieties, make sure that the milkweed is planted at least 5 miles away from Monarch overwintering sites.
Why Do Bees Buzz?
Buzz pollination is when some bees use their vibrations to extract pollen from flowers and has been observed in about 58 percent of bee species. It is found across more than 20,000 species of flowering plants, including important edible crops such as tomatoes, potatoes and kiwis.
Let’s learn more about pollinators!
Western Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus): Western Monarch Butterflies are beautiful insects known for their bright orange wings outlined with black veins dappled by white spots. Every autumn season, tens of thousands of Monarch Butterflies migrate south to escape the harsh northern winters. Observe these majestic butterflies at the Pismo Preserve from late October to February as they tightly cluster to Eucalyptus trees. Read more on Monarch Butterflies at https://www.experiencepismobeach.com/beach-and-outdoors/monarch-butterflies/monarch-grove/.
Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera): The Western Honey Bee is the most commonly depicted bee with a narrow brown, hairy body with soft yellow bands. Their hairy bodies help them collect pollen. These bees communicate with each other through pheromones and an intricate dance language.
Yellow-faced Bumblebee (Bombus vosnesenskii): Yellow-faced Bumblebees have yellow heads and black chubby bodies that are covered in hair to collect pollen. These bees play a crucial role in the success of agricultural yield and are responsible for pollinating many crops, such as greenhouse tomatoes. It is reported that Yellow-faced Bumblebees are more effective at pollinating crops than are human-derived methods.
California Tortoiseshell Butterfly (Nymphalis californica): The California Tortoiseshell Butterfly has orange wings with large black spots and dark brown wing borders. Their underside is variegated brown and looks like a dead leaf. These butterflies can be found in chaparral, woodland areas, brush, and forest clearings.
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna): Anna’s Hummingbirds are delicate pollinators with thick-set bodies and straight bills. While both male and female Anna’s Hummingbirds are predominantly covered in emerald-green iridescent feathers, male Anna’s Hummingbirds have raspberry-pink crowns and throats. These hummingbirds are more vocal than others and can be heard singing a buzzy song. Anna’s Hummingbirds live off flower nectar and small insects.
Ornate Checkered Beetle (Trichodes ornatus): Ornate Checkered Beetles are small black hairy insects with red squares on their backs. As larvae, Ornate Checkered Beetles feed on bee pollen and bee larvae. As adults, they eat yarrow plants, milkweed, and other yellow-colored plants. These beetles can only be found in North America.
Gray-hooded Owlet Moth (Cucullia florea): Gray-hooded Owlet Moths are covered in soft gray fur. These moths are nocturnal and fly at night through forests from late May to July. Gray-hooded Owlet Moths enjoy eating California Goldenrod, Aster flowers, and Fleabane.
Andrena Bee (Andrena): Andrena Bees are a genus of bees with over 261 species in California alone! These bees are called “miner bees” as they make their homes in the ground. These small velvety bees can be black, blue, or green.
California Sister Butterfly (Adelpha californica): The California Sister Butterfly has dark brown to black wings dotted by a band of white and framed by orange tips on the wings. Larvae live off of oak trees and adults eat mud, water, rotting fruit, and sometimes, flowers. These butterflies are found in most of California and prefer to live in oak forests, forest edges, and canyons with water sources.
California Hairstreak (Satyrium californica): California Hairstreak Butterflies have light brown wings with an orange spot on each of its wings. The outer wings are light brown with a top row of small orange spots and a bottom row of smaller brown spots. These butterflies can be found in forest edges, chaparral, woodland and enjoy eating nectar from milkweed and buckwheat.
California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica): The California Poppy, the official state flower of California, has a long green stem with green leaves and is crowned with a silky orange blossom. These flowers are self-propagating, meaning that once they’re pollinated, their seed pods dry up and explode, sending their seeds into the surrounding area where they will grow into these delicate orange blooms. California poppies bloom from spring to early summer with April being the best month to see them. Experience these beautiful California gems at the Pismo Preserve off of Highway 1.
Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea): Hummingbird Sage is a fruity-scented dark green sage beaded with magenta-colored flowers. This fragrant sage blooms from March to May. Hummingbird Sage is an important plant for many pollinators, offering nectar, pollen, and hosts for larvae.
Nipomo-Mesa Ceanothus (Ceanothus impressus var. nipomensis): The Nipomo-Mesa Ceanothus is a bushy, evergreen shrub noted for its many clusters of fragrant, dark blue flowers in spring. Native to the central California coast, Nipomo-Mesa Ceanothus can be enjoyed on the slopes and mesas of San Luis Obispo county.
Western GoldenRod (Euthamia occidentalis): The Western Goldenrod consists of small, bright yellow flower clusters crowning the top of tall green stems. These plants provide important sources of food for pollinators. Western GoldenRod blooms can be enjoyed from July through September.
Arroyo Willow (Salix lasiolepis): Arroyo Willows are small trees with brown stems, green leaves, and fuzzy catkins, or flowering spikes, that bloom in spring. These catkins are propagated when the wind blows through them and carries their seeds in different directions. Indigenous Californians used the Arroyo Willow for medicinal purposes and crafting materials.
California Coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica): The California Coffeeberry, also known as the California Buckthorn, is a large evergreen shrub with shiny dark leaves and round red berries that darken to black as they ripen. This shrub’s name comes from its berries’ close appearance to coffee beans. The California Coffeeberry is an important source of food for pollinators like birds, bees, and butterflies.
Black Sage (Salvia mellifera): Black Sage is a shrub with small, oval, green pebbled leaves and its stems are beaded with light purple flowers. While Black Sage can be enjoyed year-round in California, winter, spring, and summer are the best times to see their purple blooms.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): The Yarrow plant consists of long green stems with aromatic, feathery leaves topped by clusters of small white flowers. In California, Yarrow comes in two colors, white and pink. Yarrow plants provide food for many pollinators, such as wasps and butterflies, and lining material for bird nests.
Toyon or Christmas Berry (Heteromeles arbutifolia): The Toyon, also known as the Christmas Berry, is a shrub or tree with glossy dark-green leaves ornamented with clusters of small, white blooms in summer and bright red berries in winter. The white flowers of the Toyon provide sustenance for insects and the red berries provide food for birds, coyotes, and other creatures.
When you visit Pismo Beach, you can observe pollinators living in their natural habitats at the Pismo Preserve, Monarch Butterfly Grove, and the Oceano Lagoon. Pismo Beach Western Monarch Butterfly Grove, is one of the largest Monarch Butterfly overwintering sites in California. The Monarch Butterfly Grove, The Pismo Preserve, and the Oceano Lagoon are open to visitors year-round, however, Monarchs are found October through March.
Sources: Butterflies & Moths of North America; California Native Plant Society (Calscape); Current Biology Magazine; Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy; UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab; University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources.