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Biologist Calls Attention To Plight Of Disappearing Monarch Butterflies With 10,000 Mile Bike Ride Following Migration Route

(Photo courtesy Sara Dykman )
Sara Dykman biking with monarch butterflies at their overwintering grounds in Mexico.

Set to talk about adventure during Santa Barbara virtual appearance

Sara Dykman likes Monarch butterflies. Maybe you do, too, but probably not like Sarah. The North American population of the butterflies has been going through a major decline, so she decided to take on her own, one-woman mission to highlight their plight.

Monarchs pass through the Central and South Coasts as part of their migration. There are major groves used by the commuting insects in Pismo Beach and Goleta. But, in recent years those local groves have also seen what’s been happening nationally, which is huge drops in Monarch numbers.

Dykman will be speaking about her 2017 trip this coming Thursday in a virtual event with a South Coast bookstore. The wildlife biologist says she decided to highlight the plight of the butterflies with a 10,000 mile round trip to the Midwest, and Eastern U.S. to follow their migration route.


A big part of her goal on the marathon trip was to educate people about the Monarchs, and how they can help. Federal officials say while the butterflies are worthy of endangered species status, there are others species which are a higher priority.

As part of her educational efforts, Dykman tried to encourage people to step up to help, and grow Monarch-friendly plants.

The ambitious ride was literally a solo effort. It was her, and her bike. There was no teams of riders, or support vehicles following along. But, she says many people along the way who heard about her effort invited her out for a meal, to stay overnight, and sometimes to speak.

She figures she talked to more than 9,000 people about the Monarchs during her more than 10,000 mile odyssey. Dykman admits it was hard at times, but the people she met along the way reminded why her effort was important.

The biologist has written a book about her monarch marathon experience, "Bicycling With

Dykman travelled thousands of miles with the butterflies, to follow their migration, but she says we don’t have to go to so much effort. She says on the Central and South Coasts, we are lucky to find the butterflies around us.

Dykman will talk about her adventures, and her book “Bicycling With Butterflies” this Thursday night. The 6 p.m. virtual event is sponsored by Chaucer’s Books in Santa Barbara. Here's a link:

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.