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

Just Posted

Developers go back to drawing board after high-rise application deferred by Parksville council

IAG Developments has proposed a multi-building development on city’s waterfront

Parksville man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Nick Major, 21, was a taekwondo instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

City of Parksville warns of utility-payment phone scam

City says phone scammers are impersonating city staff demanding past-due cash

Parksville Qualicum Beach drivers spotted speeding, missing stop signs and talking on cellphones

Intersection of Marks Avenue and Highway 4A in Parksville is big for scofflaws

Rare white ravens spotted again in Coombs

Nature photographer Mike Yip said mysterious birds back in the region

WATCH: Parksville Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first extended steps in nearly three decades

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Undercover operation stings four at Island pawn shops and second hand stores

Accused face charges of attempt to possess stolen property after Campbell River arrests

15-year-old with imitation gun caused ‘dynamic’ scene at Nanaimo mall

No one was harmed in Monday’s incident, say Nanaimo RCMP

Push on to establish Vancouver Island as an arts powerhouse

Island-wide conversation underway on how the arts and culture can amplify economic development

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Vancouver Island mom says she will go to court overseas to try to get daughter back

Tasha Brown says her estranged wife abducted their daughter Kaydance Etchells in 2016

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

Most Read