Volunteers are almost finished restoring Butterfly Park in Huntington Beach. They just need to plant a few dozen more trees Satrday morning and are inviting people to help out.
Gibbs Park, also known as Butterfly Park, is a welcome patch of green nestled between homes on a suburban street. Leslie Gilson and Jeane Nagy remember its ups and downs.
"In the old days, this grove had over 10,000 butterflies overwintering, which means that they go to a branch and cluster and stay here for five months during the winter," said Gilson. "But all the trees were diseased..."
"It was terrible," said Nagy. "You wouldn’t as a family even venture into here. The weeds were higher than us."
"I went to city council and said 'hey, what happened to this park?'" added Gilson.
With the city’s backing, Gilson spearheaded a restoration with the Tree Society, where Nagy volunteers. They got rid of the dead trees and replaced them with nectar plants.
"We put in lilacs, and lantana and satis – just plants that they love."
And milkweed – the only food monarch caterpillars eat. After two years, the park has attracted a growing number of monarchs.
"The female butterfly lays this tiny white egg. And that will turn into a tiny caterpillar. And right here you’ll see a beautiful green and gold chrysalis and they attach themselves to the wall or to a plant and nobody knows what happens inside it. All the professors that have been studying it for years and years – nobody knows how a caterpillar turns into a chrysalis!"
As for the migrating monarchs... well, they’re in Pismo Beach right now. Gilson says there are only about 40 more trees to plant. She could use some help doing that. Then the park will be finished.
"And we hope and wait for the butterflies to over-winter again."