California

‘Painted Ladies’ Swarm San Diego Due to Recent Rain

Have you noticed more butterflies fluttering around San Diego County? You're not alone.

Winter rain has not only brought beautiful blooms to San Diego County but has increased by the tens of thousands a population of "painted ladies."

That's because caterpillars feed on those wildflower blooms as they journey from Mexico to the Pacific Northwest to lay their eggs, bug experts with the Living Coast Discovery Center (LCDC) said.

"We actually saw some of the lowest numbers for a lot of species of butterfly throughout California, so this is exciting," LCDC education specialist Aiyana Reissman said.  

Painted ladies look similar to a monarch butterfly but are smaller and have a much more intricate design, Reissman said. 

"They’re going to have a different design as well as different colors throughout their bodies too, making them a very pretty animal to look at," she said. 

The swarms of butterflies fly very quickly and erratically, at times reaching speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. The species is found on every continent except Antarctica and South America. 

Painted ladies will likely be visible for a few more weeks as they continue their journey north but Reissman said if wet weather persists, it is possible for painted ladies to breed continuously through the year. 

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