UCLA’s Jeff Holmquist credits a big rain year for driving painted lady butterfly migration through Southern California

March 14, 2019

Jeff Holmquist (community ecologist at the UCLA White Mountain Research Center and UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability) sat down with the UCLA Newsroom to explain why droves of painted lady butterflies are fluttering across Los Angeles.

Southern California has had a wet winter, and Holmquist says that, “the big migration years seem to be in wet years, when there’s a lot of food for the caterpillars.” According to Holmquist, painted lady butterflies, which spend their winters in Southern California’s Mojave Desert and Mexico, are likely to continue to migrate earlier, as the climate warms. He anticipates that because painted ladies are widely distributed globally and aren’t picky eaters, they are more likely to survive the effects of climate change, unlike many other butterfly species.

Read the full Q&A at UCLA Newsroom.