What is that giant swarm of butterflies in Orange County?

Swarms of butterflies are invading inland sections of Southern California as a result of an unusually heavy migration of a common species making its way from Mexico to the Pacific Northwest to breed, experts say.

About 1 billion butterflies, known as Painted Ladies, are flying at speeds of 20 miles per hour in a northerly direction from the deserts of Mexico to reach breeding grounds in Oregon, according to several sources in different newspapers.  

Here in Orange County we are seeing this magnificent phenomenon - and if you were wondering what was happening - well, that's that. The volume this year is definitely unusual - with many of us experiencing these swarms of butterflies these past days. 

Also, we are spotting many of the orange and black Monarch butterfly which spends a few months of its unusual life cycle in California. They're easy — and beautiful — to watch from many spots along the coast. 

Did you know...

  • The Painted Lady Butterfly is probably the most widespread butterfly in the world. It has no permanent residence and they are spotted across all the continents. The Painted  Butterfly is found in Asia, Africa, Europe, and all over North America.
  • Most monarchs live from two to six weeks as an adult butterfly, but the Monarch's migration is the KEY to its yearly life cycle. The total time frame for one butterfly's life cycle (one generation) is about 6-8 weeks…egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly. It grows inside the egg for about 4 days.

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