Mother Nature presented me with a wonderful show today. I've probably seen the show before, but just never took notice. Unfortunately, it was a bit too fast paced to capture in photographs.
After the morning fog broke up and retreated (I'm not talking caffeine fix here, just the usual weather) and it warmed up a bit, I noticed butterflies flying by. Not flitting about, but flying by quickly and seemingly on a mission. They were going by so fast, faster than I can walk, that I couldn't figure out what kind of butterfly they were. All of them were coming down the valley, from the south and headed north. Instead of flying level like a plane, they were following the contours of the land and anything upon it. Six to ten feet above nearly anything in their path, coming straight on, rarely veering around things, going up and over and down and onward. They came on two, three, five at a time. Only an occasional one would land, but the minute I moved toward it to see what it was it would fly off. It was amazing how many there were. There had to have been hundreds that passed by during the hour that I sat and ate my lunch. Finally, one landed on flower and stayed long enough that I could get a good look. It was a Painted Lady.
I sat there in amazement watching the show, wondering where are they coming from and where are they going to? Finally, I hit the computer and learned what was going on. Painted Ladies spend the winter in the desert along the U.S.-Mexico border. They breed there and the adults emerge in February and March and promptly start migrating north. The new butterflies have a generous amount of fat stores so they can fly without stopping to feed. When their fat stores are depleted they stop to feed, breed and lay eggs. The new generations will continue the northward migration, ultimately reaching the Pacific Northwest. A similar southward migration starts in August.
Painted Ladies are also called Cosmopolitans because they have an extremely large range. They are found on every continent except for Australia and Antarctica. The migration that I've described here is for the western US population.
Good show Mother Nature! You continually amaze me.