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 swarms 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. It is different from the monarch in that it is smaller, and are not poisonous, whereas monarchs are toxic to animals. Painted ladies are found on every continent, except 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 an abundance of flora as a result, 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 trails!
Photo credits: Emily Haas
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