Swarms of painted lady butterflies are migrating through Southern California, because of this year’s wildflowers super bloom.
Experts believe that millions (or even billions!) of painted lady butterflies are migrating from the Mexican deserts to the Pacific Northwest, because of the super bloom where butterflies could lay their eggs on the plants and for caterpillars to eat.
“This is the biggest outbreak since 2005,” Art Shapiro, a professor at the University of California and ecologist at UC Davis, said. She told Los Angeles Times that it is usually a big year for the painted lady butterflies whenever there’s a big bloom in the desert.
Tom Merriman, director of San Diego nonprofit organization Butterfly Farms, told Pasadena Star News that the huge number of butterflies migrating is likely caused by the tons of eggs laid by the butterflies themselves in the desert.
But, what are painted lady butterflies?
This kind of butterfly is the distant cousin of the Monarch butterfly and is one of the most common butterflies in the world. It is a medium-sized butterfly and can be spotted easily thanks to their pale orange upper wings, with black tips and white dots.
Despite the sudden migration of billions of these butterflies, Shapiro believes it does not “forecast a comeback for monarchs,” according to CNN.
“It has nothing at all to do with the monarch. It’s like asking whether a good year for the economy of Tanzania will be helpful to the economy of Sri Lanka,” she said. “Probably, there’s no relation.”
People around the area has posted butterfly sightings and noted that it just looks “magical.”
“We’re seeing at least 100 of [butterflies] a minute,” senior museum scientist at UC Riverside’s Entomology Research Museum, Doug Yanege, told the LA Times. “We’re talking about a population in millions, easily no question.
Migration may continue for another month or so, said Butterfly Farm’s Tom Merriman.