We Have Been Invaded By Butterflies

Our backyard was ground zero for a huge butterfly migration today. Here is stunning wide-screen, Dolby-enhanced, Technicolor proof:

OK, fine, it doesn’t look all that impressive. But there were lots of them! And they were definitely on a mission, with no dilly-dallying. My back-of-the-envelope guess is that the entire flock must have included a million butterflies or more.

I’m not sure what kind they were, but they were kind of smallish and had black and orange markings. What kind of butterfly migrates north through Orange County near the Ides of March?

UPDATE: The LA Times has the story:

Those black-and-orange insects that seem to be everywhere you look in Southern California aren’t monarchs and they aren’t moths. They are called Painted Ladies, and these butterflies are migrating by the millions across the state.

The migration itself is nothing new. Painted Ladies set off from their wintering grounds in the Mojave and Colorado deserts of southeastern California as winter gives way to spring. They travel roughly the same path every year, flying northwest to Sacramento en route to Oregon, Washington and beyond. (They’ve been spotted as far north as Alaska.)

What’s unusual this year is the number of two- to three-inch butterflies making the journey. Scientists say there haven’t been this many Painted Ladies traversing the state since 2005, when the population climbed to about 1 billion.

So there you have it.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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