Rare butterfly migration moving through the metro

You’ve likely noticed them flying around lingering on blooming flowers, or you have tried your best to avoid them with your car. New Mexico is seeing an invasion of butterflies, and soon you’ll be seeing even more.

“It is uncommon to have as many as we have going right now,” said Jason Schaller, an entomologist at the Botanic Garden.

Right now, butterflies are swarming the metro in a rare migration pattern. Schaller says because of New Mexico’s extremely wet winter, the butterflies sensed the moisture and subsequent blooming flowers and headed to the Land of Enchantment.

“There’s not a lot of places you can just go see masses of butterflies. So, when we see this kind of stuff it’s really exciting because you walk out your door and they just all flutter up,” said Tatia Veltkamp, the owner of Wings of Enchantment, a butterfly farm in Albuquerque.

Most of the butterflies you see flying around now are ‘painted ladies,’ which share the monarch butterfly’s orange and black markings.

“It’ll be in the hundreds, definitely,” said Veltkamp.

How long the butterflies stay around is completely dependent on the weather. 

“If all of a sudden we have a heat wave here and all the milkweed dries out they’ll leave pretty quickly, but if it’s mild all summer and we have a good monsoon they’ll stick around for several months,” said Schaller. 

The best place to enjoy the butterflies is in a place with lots of nectar plants.

Monarchs can also be spotted in the metro in early fall, depending on the weather.

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