Butterflies Fluttering By: Red Admirals "Irrupting'' All Over The Place

Hatchlings responsible for multitudes flying around


If you're seeing an inordinate amount of butterflies around today, you're right. There are, experts say.

They're Red Admiral butterflies, although they at first glance do look like their more well-known cousins, the Monarch butterfly. And if you're seeing multitudes, it's because it's a birthday party.

Todd Klein, a volunteer at the Cape May Bird Observatory, said this is around the time that Red Admirals are hatching. There is some migration taking place, too, Klein said.

"But what you're likely seeing are the hatchlings from last year,'' he said. "It has just gotten warm enough that the eggs are hatching.''

The observatory tracks the movement of Monarch butterflies over time. Klein said often the Red Admiral gets confused with the Monarch because the two are similarly colored.

The sudden influx of the butterflies is called an "irruption" -- a natural, cyclical population boom that causes an increase of butterflies every few years. And the unusually warm winter we had this year helped them to thrive, experts say. A boom of this size has not been seen in 12 years, according to butterfly watchers.

If you're overrun today like so many seem to be, don't forget to send in those pictures!

Heidi Drake May 10, 2012 at 11:38 PM
I live in Lenawee County Michigan and I have been talking about the unusual number of Red Admirals since late March. I figured the eruption had to do with the mild winter, but it also reminded of a periodic cicada hatchings. Just today I had yet another discussion about the Red Admiral so I decided to do a search and this artical came up. Thank you for taking an interest in the Red Admiral. I'm glad this interesting moment in nature hasn't slipped by without notice. -Heidi


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