We Have Been Invaded By Butterflies

Our backyard was ground zero for a huge butterfly migration today. Here is stunning wide-screen, Dolby-enhanced, Technicolor proof:

OK, fine, it doesn’t look all that impressive. But there were lots of them! And they were definitely on a mission, with no dilly-dallying. My back-of-the-envelope guess is that the entire flock must have included a million butterflies or more.

I’m not sure what kind they were, but they were kind of smallish and had black and orange markings. What kind of butterfly migrates north through Orange County near the Ides of March?

UPDATE: The LA Times has the story:

Those black-and-orange insects that seem to be everywhere you look in Southern California aren’t monarchs and they aren’t moths. They are called Painted Ladies, and these butterflies are migrating by the millions across the state.

The migration itself is nothing new. Painted Ladies set off from their wintering grounds in the Mojave and Colorado deserts of southeastern California as winter gives way to spring. They travel roughly the same path every year, flying northwest to Sacramento en route to Oregon, Washington and beyond. (They’ve been spotted as far north as Alaska.)

What’s unusual this year is the number of two- to three-inch butterflies making the journey. Scientists say there haven’t been this many Painted Ladies traversing the state since 2005, when the population climbed to about 1 billion.

So there you have it.