Butterflies: Urban Wildlife We Like

This Painted Lady butterfly landed for a brief moment on this hedge on our back yard this morning.

Everyone has been buzzing about the swarms of Painted Lady butterflies that  have been spotted around the region. Thanks to recent rains the population of butterflies has soared so we can see them as they make their way to the Pacific Northwest.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

The migration itself is nothing new. Painted ladies set off from their wintering grounds in the Mojave and Colorado deserts of southeastern California as winter gives way to spring. They travel roughly the same path every year, flying northwest to Sacramento en route to Oregon, Washington and beyond. (They’ve been spotted as far north as Alaska.)

What’s unusual this year is the number of 2- to 3-inch butterflies making the journey. Scientists say there haven’t been this many painted ladies traversing the state since 2005, when the population climbed to about 1 billion.

“When they are scarce nobody notices them,” said Art Shapiro, an ecologist at UC Davis who has been tracking butterflies in the state for nearly 50 years. “When they are abundant, everyone notices.”

If you’re like me and you missed seeing them over the past few days, head over to the LA County Natural History Museum this weekend for the opening of their seasonal Butterfly Pavilion that showcases hundreds of butterflies and the plants that surround them, an interaction that has been refined over the course of millions of years.

Inside the pavilion, visitors can see up close how butterflies use their tubular mouthparts to obtain nectar and witness caterpillars feed on leaves and go through the process of their transformation into adults. Various butterflies are present at different points during the season and the plants will grow and change, so go visit often.

We have not been lucky enough to have swarms of butterflies but we have spotted individuals flitting across the sky. They are fast and hard to photograph, at least for me!
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About Patricia Lombard

Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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