I’ve been seeing SO MANY painted lady butterflies in our garden this spring. I’ve never seen so many here. At first I congratulated myself, thinking “oh wow, I’ve created a perfect habitat for these beauties, they are visiting because they love it here!” And that’s sort of true, but I knew something else had to be going on. And then I remembered how I had read articles in March about an enormous butterfly migration starting in southern California and moving north. Experts expected the horde to mostly stay inland, near I-5, but figured some might draft their way into the Bay Area. Well, I think I must be seeing that happening here.
Borage has reseeded itself freely around our garden, and some is even growing in our patio, in the cracks next to the planters where we have the hops - clearly taking advantage of the water seeping out of the bottoms of the planters. I was watering the hops today and watching the bees in the borage, when I noticed a webby sort of nest within a group of buds. There were all kinds of brown pellets, which hello, I know insect poop when I see it. But these pellets were big. I broke the webby thing open and found this…
So perfectly camouflaged with the spiky white hairs on the borage. And guess what. These are all painted lady nests and caterpillars. In fact I think you can see one of their eggs on the picture above this one; the eggs are green and barrel-shaped with tiny lines running up and down.
Once I noticed them, I started seeing these guys everywhere. My borage is inundated with them!
Butterfly migration is one of those things that breaks my brain. The butterflies only live for 2-4 weeks, but the next generation knows exactly where they are on the migration trail, and continues the journey? I mean. That’s just too big to absorb. And then they do it back the other way too. A miracle, I tell you.
Apparently the explosion of these butterflies this year is due to the wet winter we had. I’ve honestly, I think, only ever seen one other painted lady in my garden before. It’s fun to see so many this year.