Southern California turned orange last week as swarms of painted lady butterflies make their way to the Pacific Northwest.
The insects are known to travel from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest every year. However, this time around, residents noticed the sheer number of migrating butterflies. Experts estimate that millions of painted lady butterflies are currently flying toward the north.
Millions Of Butterflies Dazzle Southern California
Arthur M. Shapiro, a professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, explained that the increased amount of rainfall that the desert near the Mexican border received this year is responsible for a large number of butterflies in the area.
The wet winter, which allowed the plants to thrive and bloom, provided nutrition to the insects in the desert where they are known to lay their eggs.
Shapiro said that a similar outbreak was seen in 2005 when millions of painted lady butterflies were witnessed migrating from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest. He expects the same number of butterflies, or perhaps more, to move toward the north this year.
Passing By On The Way To The North
Experts also revealed that the painted lady butterflies are flying really fast. The insects can reach up to the speed of 25 miles per hour.
"The striking thing is they're moving very rapidly and directionally," stated Shapiro. "So it's almost like being in a hail of bullets."
Moreover, according to Monika Moore who is a butterfly enthusiast, the insects seem to be moving in a strange way. They navigate the area with expertise: flying low in an open field and then high whenever they encounter buildings and homes.
Painting The Town Orange
Painted lady butterflies are the most pervasive around the world. They exist in every continent except Antarctica and South America.
They are also often confused with monarch butterflies because of the colors of their wings.
"I like to think of them as being like the plagues of locust that used to be around the world, except they eat plants we don't care about," commented Brian Brown, an entomology curator at the Natural Museum of History in Los Angeles. "They're looking for what we consider weeds, and as they feed, they build up big populations."
Front row seats to the painted lady #butterflymigration! #butterflies #paintedladies #Irvine #OrangeCounty pic.twitter.com/4w55GfF8VT — South Coast Research (@UCSouthCoast) March 12, 2019
Butterfly in the skkkyyy... #paintedladies @WindwardSchool pic.twitter.com/4YYV107br0 — Dr. Melanie Arias (@20thC_Melanie) March 12, 2019