Flock of Millions of Butterflies Migrating Towards Northern California

With the unbelievable precipitation in California this winter, flower superblooms have exploded the population of painted lady butterflies in the Mojave Desert. Now, as the flock heads north to migrate to Oregon for the spring, they are expected to hit Northern California by the millions any day now.

When the swarm of painted lady butterflies left the Mojave, biologists expected their path to be right down the center of the state. So it was a major surprise when the first batch arrived at San Francisco’s Presidio late last week. Biologists credit the change in weather patterns this winter for the movement in the migration.

The bulk of the flock of orange and black butterflies is expected to arrive by the millions early next week, moving 25 mph through the westside of the state. The butterfly species is known for its yearly migration across the state, sometimes even flying over Lassen Peak. They’re known to fly at high speeds from dusk to dawn without stopping.


With the multiplication of the populations this winter, the butterfly views may be the best we’ve seen since 2005, when the flock grew to a billion. This year, biologists expect the flock to be in the millions.

We can’t wait for the butterflies to arrive and will share the great photos and videos of the event when it happens!

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California

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