They began their migration in recent days fluttering north from the deserts of Mexico and Southern California, to the forests and beaches of the Pacific Northwest. Millions of bright orange butterflies, called painted ladies, their numbers swollen because of intense rains in California all winter long. More rain meant more plants which meant more food for the painted lady caterpillars to gorge on. It’s been nearly 15 years since a migration this large has occurred. Unlike butterflies that flit elegantly among flowering plants and trees, these painted ladies are moving. They fly at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour as they flock north, seeking the lush forests of Oregon to reproduce. “The striking thing is they’re moving very rapidly and directionally,” said Professor Arthur Shapiro of UC Davis, a butterfly researcher. “So it’s almost like being in a hail of bullets.”
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