Southern California is all aflutter thanks to an annual migration of butterflies known as the painted lady. In recent days, the skies of some areas have been filled with the winged creatures.
People took to social media to document the insects fluttering around California. The butterflies travel from the deserts in Mexico and fly as long as their fat reserves last before breeding, moving from the state’s Mojave and Colorado deserts to Oregon, Washington and even Alaska.. Generations of the insects can reach all the way to the Pacific Northwest.
Tremendous wildflower blooms typically are really big painted lady years an the last really big one was in 2005 with estimated billions of butterflies.
The entire North American population of painted lady butterflies migrates to west Texas and northern Mexico during the winter. As caterpillars, they feed on desert annual plants — their favorites are the families of mallows, borages, and thistles and their relatives — and then once butterflies, they begin traveling north.
They can live up to six weeks, but most don’t live that long. There will be waves of migration as the first generation makes it to northern California, they breed and then the next generation makes the trip to the Pacific Northwest.
On the way back, the next generations of butterflies will begin making the trip south. In California, the largest number of butterflies are expected on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada