Photos: Swarm of painted lady butterflies fill the sky in California during migration
By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer
March 22, 2019, 3:32:13 PM EDT
Some would be terrified of a swarm of millions of insects, except this one happens to be beautiful butterflies called painted ladies.
They are taking over the skies in Southern California as they make their way north for migration.
The butterflies reside in warmer areas but migrate in spring and sometimes again in autumn.
"The painted lady migration is not rare but rather has been taking place for centuries. In some years, the numbers aren’t as pronounced as they are this year," President of Butterfly Rescue International, Lepidopterist Rick Mikula said.
These painted ladies are known to travel annually from the deserts of Southern California to the Pacific Northwest.
In California, they are usually seen flying from north to northwest.
"This year’s huge increase can be attributed to the California rains which help to increase the plant life in an otherwise sparse overwintering environment," Mikula said.
Rainfall in the deserts, where the North American painted ladies lay their eggs, is the reason for the large amount this year.
The substantial rain caused plants to thrive, giving the painted lady caterpillars plenty of food.
Painted lady butterflies migrating through our backyard. Millions are fluttering through Southern California as part of their journey north from Mexico to the Northwest. There’s plenty more this year because of cooler temps & all the rain we got this winter. Happy Sunday 🦋 pic.twitter.com/C1hi9Cb8B8— Esmeralda Bermudez 🦅 (@LATbermudez) March 17, 2019
"More host plants means more caterpillars that will eventually become more butterflies. I have been fortunate to witness such massive migrations firsthand over the past few decades," Mikula said.
Painted lady butterflies are found on every continent except Antarctica and South America.
"I have also experienced massive migrations of snout butterflies in Texas where it was impossible to drive on the highways without using your windshield wipers," Mikula said.
Unlike some other butterflies, painted lady butterflies lack red receptors, which means that they are likely red-green color-blind.
"The painted is also well renowned for its annual migration from the U.K. to Africa where tens of millions of individuals are actually tracked by radar. On the reverse route they have been shown to fly from Africa as far north as the Arctic Circle," Mikula said.
To help butterflies, such as Monarchs, whose population has been dropping, experts suggest planting milkweed.
Check out all the painted lady butterflies on the 101 in Encino. Perhaps this is why traffic is moving so slowly. pic.twitter.com/LBVsKa0Cdx— Jeff Nguyen (@jeffnguyen) March 16, 2019
Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.
More Weather News
Weather News - April 22, 2019, 6:27:24 AM EDT
The same storm system that brought damaging winds and hail to southern Nebraska and northwestern Kansas on Easter Sunday will target parts of the Midwest with severe thunderstorms on Monday afternoon and evening.
Weather News - April 22, 2019, 2:19:07 AM EDT
After showers put a damper on Easter Sunday, another band of rain will spread into New England on Monday and may spoil outdoor plans for those with an extended holiday weekend.
Lyrid meteor shower to peak on Monday night, will you be able to catch a glimpse of a shooting star?
Weather News - April 21, 2019, 12:52:20 PM EDT
The first major meteor shower in more than 3 months will give stargazers across Europe the chance to see frequent shooting stars in the coming nights.
Weather News - April 22, 2019, 2:31:20 AM EDT
Calmer weather settling in over the southern and eastern United States early this week will continue to assist cleanup efforts in the wake of the three-day severe weather outbreak.
Weather News - April 22, 2019, 1:48:44 AM EDT
After a lull during the Easter holiday weekend, the risk for severe weather and flooding downpours will ramp back up across the south-central United States this week.
Snow falls in Western Australia while Melbourne bakes in 30 C this late in April for the 1st time in decades
Weather News - April 21, 2019, 12:58:47 PM EDT
Australia experienced its hottest and coldest April day for decades. Residents in Australia’s Stirling Ranges woke up to record snowfall for the first time in 49 years.
Weather News - April 21, 2019, 7:32:07 AM EDT
While dry, warm and tranquil conditions are in store for a large part of the nation on Easter Sunday, there will be some areas that have to deal with showers and cool weather.