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

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Creekside Apartments gets utility charge relief from Port Hardy council

The apartment building is undergoing restoration from a fire that happened back in 2017.

LETTER: It’s a labour of love keeping the Port Alice golf course running

‘We North Islanders are indeed fortunate to have two gorgeous golf club’

Mowi’s B.C. salmon farms achieve environmental certification from independent watchdog

Aquaculture Steward Council certification complies with 500 sustainability and social measures

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Most Read