I was driving to Pasadena from work two weeks ago and in the air were hundreds of butterflies. Even in the suburban jungle I call home, California butterflies from the sweet Cabbage white to the majestic Western swallowtail are fairly common. But the swarm of butterflies heading west was a sight that I had never seen before.
The painted lady butterfly, Vanessa cardui, is an orange and black colored butterfly with lovely splashes of white, from afar similar in appearance to the monarch. These are the butterflies commonly found in educational butterfly home sets. The painted lady is different from the monarch in that it is smaller, and is not poisonous, whereas the monarch is toxic to animals. Painted ladies are found on most continents, excluding Antarctica and Australia, and are common across the United States. They are a migratory species, laying their eggs in the southern deserts, then making their way north to Canada. This year, thanks to the heavy rains in the west and the resulting abundance of flora, painted lady populations have exploded, making their migration more pronounced than in previous years.
The photos show the butterflies in the mountains and suburbs of Los Angeles. I love this display of natural beauty throughout Southern California. To the butterflies, have a safe flight. To the humans, enjoy the views. Happy migratory trails!
Photo credits: Emily Haas
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