Southern California sees swarms of painted lady butterflies, stunning images show

Southern California sees swarms of painted lady butterflies, stunning images show

- in Science
20

In the days following the so-called “super bloom” — which has covered the Anza-Borrego desert in purple, orange and bright yellow wildflowers — Southern California has also received another jaw-dropping gift from Mother Nature: Painted lady butterflies, which have arrived in swarms.

The butterflies are currently on their migration route from wintering grounds in northern Mexico and other areas to the Pacific Northwest, namely Oregon and Washington, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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Though the insects embark on a similar journey each year, the number of painted ladies that have been spotted in The Golden State in recent days are said to be more than normal. According to the publication, the number of painted ladies currently floating through the state is on par with 2005 numbers, when an estimated 1 billion butterflies of the kind were spotted.

The reason for the increase is likely due, in part, to what helped the super bloom erupt so vibrantly: The weather. Specifically for the super bloom, a massive amount of rain (which, Richard Minnich, a professor of earth sciences at the University of California, Riverside told KPBS is “150 percent more than normal”), followed by warm weather led to the perfect conditions for long-dormant seeds under the desert surface to burst into life.

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“Years of tremendous wildflower blooms typically are really big painted lady years,” Arthur M. Shapiro, a professor at the University of California, Davis’ Department of Evolution and Ecology, College of Biological Sciences, told NBC News.

“When they are scarce nobody notices them. When they are abundant, everyone notices,” Shapiro separately told the Los Angeles Times.

Painted ladies — similar looking but not the same as the Monarch butterfly — can fly more than 2,000 miles at a time, according to National Geographic. But most migrations are comprised of multiple generations of painted ladies; meaning these insects will stop to lay eggs, which will then hatch and continue the journey, Curbed Los Angeles reported.

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“The migration is not only happening here in North America. It happens between Africa and Europe as well,” Brian Brown, curator of entomology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, told the publication. “It really is a worldwide phenomenon.”

Many Twitter users have taken to the social media platform to share photos and videos of the butterflies fluttering by.

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