PISMO BEACH, Calif. - As the number of western monarch butterflies decreases, California State Parks is asking people to document where the butterflies are going.
The monarch butterflies have left Pismo Beach for the most part this season to migrate north.
The number of western monarch butterflies has severely decreased in recent years. They went from over 200,000 thirty years ago to only 7,000 at Pismo this year.
State Parks knows where the butterflies migrate to, but does not know exactly what path they take.
They want to document exactly where they are going.
They are encouraging people to take a photo of the butterflies anytime they see them, and upload it onto an app called iNaturalist.
State parks officials say that documenting them will help naturalists to increase their population.
"There's only one food source for them when they're a caterpillar and that's milkweed," said Danielle Bronson, State Parks interpreter. "We want to make sure that there's a viable food source for them where they're migrating and when they're migrating."
Bronson said that understanding their locations means naturalists can ensure there's a food source for them from year to year.
iNaturalist users just upload the photo, and the app automatically records their location. They can also use it to document other species.
Washington State University is using information from the app to study the migration.
Visitors at Butterfly Grove said they would be interested in trying the app.
"I would definitely try to be a participant and help it out if it's for the better cause," said Bailey Mendoza, a Nipomo resident. He said he's interested in learning more about what happened.
Another visitor, Dave Sullivan, said he's noticed the decrease of monarchs over the years and he would be willing to help the effort to document them.
Although the population of monarchs was roughly the same overall from last year to this year, twice as many of them came to Pismo Beach this year.