Over-abundance of butterflies in Nebraska

Over-abundance of butterflies in Nebraska
Painted lady butterfly

NORFOLK, NE – There’s a new group of ladies in Nebraska, but not the type you’d expect…

The painted lady butterfly is migrating through the state and is reproducing at a rapid rate.

Nebraska Game and Parks Wildlife Educator, Jamie Bachmann, says, “I think everybody’s been noticing this huge abundance of butterflies. What I found out is that we actually haven’t had any more butterflies than normal, except for one kind of butterfly, and that’s the painted lady butterfly. All the other kind of butterflies are just doing their normal abundance… it doesn’t seem like there’s any more of those is what I’ve been told, but the painted lady butterflies are definitely more in abundance.”

Like monarch butterflies, this species is a migratory insect and arrived in the spring from New Mexico and Colorado after wintering in the southwest.

Bachmann says that there was a huge explosion of adult butterflies toward the end of June and beginning of July because the ladies laid their eggs as soon as they arrived in the spring.

These animals usually only fly six to 12 feet above ground… which is why you might notice your car colliding with them as you drive.

“This doesn’t happen every year from what I understand,” she says. “It looks like in 2017 we had a big painted lady year, and it has a lot to do with weather and food resources throughout their migration and their life cycle. Everything has just been abundant wherever they have been… so as they migrate they have a good abundance of everything that they need for their life cycle.”

Nebraskans should observe only one more hatching of these insects before they leave the state in mid-September.

Bachmann also says that painted ladies can lay their eggs on a variety of plants, meaning they can get into soybean fields, so she suggests that farmers who have an issue with these butterflies should call their UNL extension in their county to discuss further steps.

But in the meantime, she wants everyone to enjoy these beautiful creatures while they’re here.

“I think that it’s an amazing opportunity to get out in your backyard and see what kind of wildlife you have. You don’t have to go to the zoo, you don’t have to watch Animal Planet, you can go out in your backyard and become familiar with the butterflies that are here in Nebraska.”