Monday, April 06, 2009


Painted Butterfly Migration

Last week, when I drove home from the Monterey airport with my mother, we saw a strangely beautiful sight. Thousands of butterflies poured through the air in what I can only describe as a flood. Fortunately for the butterflies, they remained well above the cars, and so did not die on my windshield. The torrent continued all day, and into the next. I was so dumbfounded, I forgot to take a picture, and just stood on the patio watching these orange wings hurtling overhead. The picture above was swiped from this site, but it gives you a sense of what the air looked like (these are also the wrong kind butterflies).

At first I thought we were witnessing the Monarch butterfly migration; Pacific Grove, which is near Carmel, is one of the few places where Monarchs sensibly go for winter at the end of their migration. My mother thought we were looking at an outbreak of oak moths. I twittered something about how I felt I was watching a scene from a Garcia Marquez meets Stephen King novel.

Today I learned that we actually witnessed the "Painted Lady" butterfly migration. This blog tracks different readers' sightings; you can also see a 2005 migration map to get a sense of how much territory the Painted Lady covers.

To get a glimpse at mother nature's wild ways is such a gift! Congratulations?! However, I must admit I don't do insects very
Fortunately the butterflies were up high--nothing that would actually touch you. But it was a strangely beautiful sight.
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