What is With All the Butterflies?!

Recently, here in Northeast Kansas we were seemingly swarmed by millions of butterflies. Along nearly every road and blacktop surface, butterflies swooped and landed and were struck down by passing cars. No matter how many died, more took their place. I have been asked multiple times what kind of butterfly they are and where did they come from? Many thought they looked like a small Monarch. Beautiful they are, Monarch they are not.

At the time I was not sure myself what was going on. After a little digging and investigation, I discovered the phenomenon to be the hatching out many thousands if not millions of Painted Lady Butterflies (Vanessa cardui) from their chrysalis’ in the nearby soybean fields. The butterfly’s larvae had bean using the soybeans as its feed source. Prone to mass migrations, the Painted Lady is the most commonly found butterfly in the world.
And my front grill could attest to their sheer numbers.

Painted Lady butterflies swarming a panicled hydrangea

As much as I hated seeing the butterflies dying in droves on my windshield, I was upbeat about the species ability to raise its young on many different types of plants, including the soybean fields which dot the Northeast Kansas landscape. While some farmers were spraying their fields to limit damage to the plants, I know that many left the butterflies alone, thus leaving a population of pollinators for the coming years.

Painted Lady butterfly gathering nectar on Ornamental Onion ‘Millenium’

Keep looking for more pollinator posts to come.

Happy planting!

2 thoughts on “What is With All the Butterflies?!

  1. Thank you so much for the information on the butterflies. Many people have been wondering about them. We seen them all round the hi ways in Richardson county Nebraska .

  2. The University of Nebraska said that the Painted ladies migrate every year just like the monarchs do, only they Migrate from California and last year, California had over abundant rainfall in the areas where the Painted Ladies are from and caused a much higher than normal population and then they came here this summer. I don’t know how true that is, but that was their conjecture.

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