Vanessa Atalanta looks like the slightly misspelled name of an up and coming pop star. Instead it is the Latin name of the Red Admiral butterfly which has swept into Central New York over the last 24 hours. Their wings span up to three inches across. Their vivid orange colors offer sharp contrast especially when perched on a white lilac bloom as they were at my house this afternoon. The butterfly caught my attention enough to grab the camera to capture the moment.
At that instant I had no idea I was getting just a small glimpse of a massive migration from south to north. A sampling or articles and experts attributes the fairly unusual occurrence in such high numbers to our uniquely mild winter. Whatever the reason people across Central New York have certainly noticed the Red Admirals.
As soon as I posted a photo on Facebook people started buzzing with their story of encountering these butterflies. One reader said, "I'm glad someone mentioned what they were! Yes, they certainly were everywhere!" Drivers on area highways could not believe the windshield mess that built up, "I saw swarms of them on my way home tonight. Kinda scary."
In Ottawa, Canada people saw a similar burst of butterflies a week ago that was cut short by a substantial spring snow. We don't know how long the butterflies will stay here. Their life is fairly short ranging from 6 to 11 months. Then their life cycle begins again when Vanessa Atalanta makes the move from caterpillar to butterfly.
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