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Painted butterflies count millions in massive migration spectacle in California





An explosion of orange butterflies, known as Painted Ladies, fills the skies over southern California as the winged beauties move north to north.

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The colorful insects leave the Mojave Desert each year during their annual migration to Oregon in the Pacific Northwest, but this year their numbers are surprisingly San Francisco Gate, according to scientists.

"In 2005, we had a similar outbreak," said Davis's Professor of Evolution and Ecology, Arthur M. Shapiro, of the University of California. He estimated the population at around one billion.

"They arrived here on March 1

1. I thought it would have been great fun if they came back here on March 11, but they did not," he said.

With insect populations around the world in dramatic decline, such a large number of butterflies might assume the disappearance of the insect problem, but that's not necessarily the case.

A wet winter with heavy rains has led to an explosion in the country Painted butterfly population this year, said Shapiro, thanks to a rich food supply in the desert where they lay their eggs.

He expects the numbers to be in line with 2005 figures, in the millions, if not another billion.

The butterfly, which is often confused with the monarch because of the similar colors, can move at a speed of 25 miles an hour and go for days without stopping, Shapiro told the gate.

The Painted Lady is one of the most beautiful ubiquitous butterfly species in the world and can be found on all continents except Antarctica and South America, according to National Geographic.

It can travel up to 2,500 miles over mountains, seas and deserts, and at a much higher elevation than other insects.

Scientists still know little about insect migration in general and the painted ladies in particular, but the Californians are certainly pleased with the golden state's annual migration of winged creatures.


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