Painted Ladies migrate as far north as the Arctic Circle. The 9,000 mile round trip is almost double the length of the famous migrations undertaken by Monarch butterflies in North America. The apparent lack of a return migration of the late-summer generation of Painted Lady butterflies was one of the greatest enigmas in insect migration ecology.
We caught the Painted Lady butterfly migration the week my oldest daughter and I were in Southern California for my 95-year-old mother’s breast cancer surgery. There was one day when we happened to be at a tiny square of wilderness and I was shocked to see butterflies zipping by at extremely high speed.
I thought they were immature Monarch Butterflies migrating north because I did not realize that other butterflies also migrate. To be fair, my daughter said that they were “those butterflies that we used to raise.” Neither of us would remember the name of those look-alike Monarch Butterflies. But she was right. When I posted a video on Instagram, one of my followers was kind enough to correct me that these streaks of light were, in fact, Painted Lady butterflies.
It was the unusually wet winter in Southern California that gave rise to a super bloom of wildflowers and burst of Painted Lady butterflies which is wonderful because there is a general decline of butterflies.
Painted Lady butterflies can fly as fast as 30 miles per hour so they appear as streaks of light in my video footage. We were lucky that they were flying low, following the path of the strong winds.
It was a small miracle to witness the Painted Lady migration. How about you? Have you seen any butterfly migrations? If so, where do you live? Thanks for sharing!
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