A painted lady butterfuly on Santa Cruz Island, part of the Channel Islands National Park, in California, on March 15, 2019. (Courtesy of Sally Otto)

VIDEO: The ‘most cosmopolitan’ of butterflies could migrate to B.C.

The painted lady butterfly will likely arrive this summer from Southern California

Billions of butterflies are migrating north from Southern California, and British Columbians may get a glimpse of some unusual species this summer, such as the painted lady.

Sally Otto, a zoologist at UBC, said substantial rainfall has triggered the unusual swell.

“The past few years of drought in California hit the caterpillars hard and few butterflies survived, but this year’s heavy rains has led to a massive bloom of flowers and greenery, allowing many more butterflies to emerge and leading to this epic migration,” she said.

In previous years, poor weather conditions meant plants couldn’t flourish. Butterflies lay their eggs on plants so when caterpillars emerge, they can feed off them. The last big migration was in 2005.

Due to the dry summer climate in California, the painted ladies migrate after hatching because plants in the north stay greener much longer, according to Otto.

“More severe weather variation linked to climate change is likely to lead to stronger booms and busts in species like the painted lady.”

Only a small number will reach B.C., according to E-Fauna BC, an online atlas of wildlife run by UBC’s geography department.

It’s not clear how far north the painted lady will reach this time, but Otto suspects Vancouver will be as close to the northern edge of their range, with the butterflies set to arrive by June or July.

READ MORE: California storms bring mudslide fears, blizzard warning

The Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility describes the painted lady, scientifically known as Vanessa cardui, as the most “most cosmopolitan” of butterflies, with an orange-pink colour, dark markings on the upper surface, and a wingspan no larger than seven centimetres.

“It is thought that they reproduce here in the summer (and not the winter), but it’s not clear what happens afterwards and whether their babies then migrate south from here,” said Otto.



joti.grewal@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PQBeat Podcast: Qualicum Beach Museum manager Netanja Waddell

Listen: Podcast talk includes history, fossils, new exhibits and more

PQB crime report: Thieves target vehicles, businesses throughout region

Oceanside RCMP receive 230 complaints in one-week span

Parksville to host special town hall event on community safety

‘Public safety is an important priority for council’

Fire torches large portable bathroom in Qualicum Beach

RCMP: ‘Senseless act has left taxpayers on the hook for the significant damages’

City of Parksville offers information about coronavirus

Says chances of getting COVID-19 locally are currently low

Toddler killed in Squamish grocery store parking lot

Child’s mother taken to hospital but her condition is not known

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

B.C. mother, daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Leap Year means we get an extra day in February, so how are you spending it?

People online have a number of suggestions and plans on how they will be spending Saturday

Greta sticker that drew outrage in Alberta not child pornography: RCMP

X-Site Energy Services has denied having anything to do with the stickers

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Rio Tinto sign a historic agreement

Co-operation crucial to stem dropping Nechako Reservoir level

Hundreds of B.C. firefighters ‘climb the wall’ for BC Lung Association

The charity fundraiser saw participants climbing up 48 storeys

Most Read