The Painted Lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui) are back migrating through California even as we speak.
Dr. Art Shapiro is a professor of Evolution and Ecology at UC-Davis and a top butterfly expert. You can find out more than you ever wanted to know about these beautiful Painted Ladies and their migration by checking out Art Shapiro’s Butterfly Site: http://butterfly.ucdavis.edu/node/446
I have received 19 e-mails from readers who have spotted these beautiful little butterflies throughout the Bay Area since last Wednesday (March 25).
*** If anyone else has seen these migrating insects, please add your comments and thoughts below at the end of this blog. Please be sure and include when (date and time) and where (exact as possible location) you saw the butterflies
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Gary: I live in south Fremont (Warm Springs) and I have noticed an amazing increase in the butterfly population this year, maybe 10 times the previous 15 years that I have lived here.
What do you think is causing this? Is it the weather or the lack of small birds to eat them or the newly reclaimed wetlands in our area?
Also, the all seem to be flying somewhat north no matter what way the wind is blowing.
I wonder where they are going? Any insight would be appreciated.
Frank McClung, Fremont
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Hi Gary: it is about 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and I am seeing hundreds, if not thousands, of small butterflies all traveling in the same direction (north) in Castro Valley. It is difficult to observe their colors and markings, as they are traveling at a pretty good clip. I think they are yellowish, and about the size of a quarter.
Here’s my questions: do you know what type of butterflies these may be; do you know where they came from/are going; and is this a common occurrence? Thanks in advance for any answers,
Dave, Castro Valley
Morning Gary: Is it me or is there an unusual amount of butterflies around today? (Thursday.) I noticed it at work in Walnut Creek, (others did too) and then again on my way home to Antioch?
Thanks so much to you and everyone else who helped bring the Goose Family Saga to us too!!
Pat in Antioch
Dear Gary – Listen – are these migrating Panting Ladies? I’m trying to avoid bumping into when driving on Oak Grove Rd. in Concord since yesterday? Groups of butterflies looking like Ladies are flying across Concord – such a brave little creatures! Or may be they are Common Buckeyes?
Gary: is a butterfly migration happening!! dunno what kind…noticed them yesterday and again today flying to the north over highway 4. they seem so fragile to be making such a trip! /Linda
Friday, March 27, 2009
Gary: There is some kind of butterfly migration going on in Livermore. They’re everywhere — trying to keep them from smashing onto the windshield. Cindi
Gary: Have you noticed all the butterflies migrating north lately? Are these our painted ladies? Sheri
While waiting for my son to complete his trumpet lesson this Friday, March 27, I counted 700 butterflies pass by me in eleven minutes. I then gave up counting, as I became a bit dizzy (too much rapid eye movement). The whole town of Benicia seems to be a-flutter. These mid-sized orange butterflies are moving in one direction (heading North). Is this a migration or sudden hatching in a local area?
After watching the three hour memorial service for the fallen OPD officers, it was calming and healing to see such a demonstration of nature’s simple wonders. I felt a little bit of my sadness flutter away on their tiny, delicate wings.
Linda Halliday, Benicia
Yesterday morning I noticed a spastic stream of butterflies going through my back yard. While out running errands, I saw more. I starting timing the length of time between sightings and it looks like I saw at least one, if not a clump of them, every eight seconds or so. They were not large enough to be monarchs and the coloring was wrong, too. Any clue what variety would be migrating through Pleasanton now? TTFN Dodie, Pleasanton
Saturday, March 28, 2009
We have tons of butterflies in our yard. Amazing to watch, however curious, are these Monarch Butterflies that are migrating? They are smaller than what I associate for size for a Monarch. Thank you in advance for your response.
Dave & Val Johnson, Pleasanton
Gary: The Painted Lady butterflies are on their annual trek again! I feel privileged to be witness to this beautiful event. The first scouts began flying southeast to northwest, by my home in SE Antioch, in ones and twos on Wednesday 25 March. Today, Saturday, the groups of dozens have appeared. I am sure the clusters will become larger and more numerous soon. Gary, from whence do they come and where is their goal; and where do they get those tiny GPS devices? Fordcpe40, Antioch
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Rossmoor Nature Lovers & Friends:
I’ve been negligent in not mentioning the seasonal migration of the “Painted Lady” butterflies this year. Every year they come streaming north from southern desert areas in large numbers. Sometimes their numbers even attract media attention when they literally number in the millions.
I’ve been seeing them in fairly significant numbers the last few days – today was sort of a crescendo (I felt like I was being swept along with them while I was walking north along Rossmoor Parkway). They are tiny (a little over 2″ wingspan) and their flight is accurately described as “fast and erratic”.
One place you can see large numbers of them, is by the driving range along Stanley Dollar where they are flying up against the fabric netting behind the fence. The butterflies tend to range back-and-forth higher and higher until they finally encounter the top of the net and can continue on their way north. Robert Carlton, Rossmoor, Walnut Creek
The most incredible event happened in our backyard yesterday. We remember it occurred a few years ago as well. It looked like a migration of painted lady butterflies, dozens at a time They came up over the hill. Some enjoyed the flowers in our backyard, and others just flew by. They swarmed through for hours. Does this happen very often? It was just spectacular.
Sherrie and Gary Moore, Martinez
Is this a banner year again for butterfly migration? Suddenly there are butterflies everywhere flying through the yard like that big butterfly migration a few years ago. I don’t remember which kind. It’s kind of fun watching them all flying in the same direction and wondering where they’re all coming from. Don’t they have to land somewhere? I guess they like the nice weather too. I’m seeing my lizard again and lots of baby ones. The sharp shinned hawk is back waiting in the bushes by the back fence again and the sparrows are fighting over prospective mates. Mocking birds are defending their territories (How can they fly in formation like fighter jets ?). Ah, Spring has sprung. New stories waiting to be written.
Pat in Antioch
Good day to you from up here on Ashwood Drive in Martinez.
Today is Sunday the 29th and a glorious day it is. All day yesterday and even more today, wave after wave of those wonderful creatures called Painted Ladies have been flying by, headed North.
They come in pairs, then in groups of three, four or five, flying their little hearts out, skimming over the carports, the trees and our houses. An amazing sight. Not seen by me in the past few years. The last time was in the Spring of 2005.
Just another lovely day in the neighborhood and I’m so glad I was here to see it.
Hope your day goes well.
Chuck Wiscavage, aka The Old Chief,, Martinez
Since mid last week I have been enjoying watching the northern migration of the painted lady butterflies. Boy, do they zip along. I’ve estimated over 1,000/hr. at peak times.
I live next to the Iron Horse Trail in Alamo and many of them use the trail as their preferred route. This makes sense since there are no vertical obstacles for them to fly over. However, at my location the trail runs north-west (true). I have observed that a few of them will leave the trail and fly over my house, change their direction and head off toward true north. Pretty amazing.
Should we wonder about their ability to navigate with apparent ease or wonder about our inability to do the same?
S. Garratt Sharp, Alamo
Dear Gary: San Ramon’s all aflutter. For the past week I’ve been watching a huge butterfly migration. I’d love to know where these little orange butterflies are coming from and where they are headed. I saw this event several years ago and am so excited to watch these butterflies once again.
Ann Kline, San Ramon
Today, Sunday 3-29-09, I watched thousands of butterflies fly through my backyard. They looked like little monarch butterflies. It was truly an amazing sight. What was all this about?
Robert in Martinez
Mr. Bogue: I live in southeastern Livermore, and for the last three days there has been a constant flow of what I believe to be Painted Lady butterflies flying due North. Occasionally a few will stop and feed on my flowering rosemary shrubs. Any idea where they are going as they are definitely in solidarity? I don’t know of any “when the painted lady’s return to Antioch” scenario. This is a mighty big migration. Your thoughts? Mike Frogner, Livermore