2019 Painted Lady Outbreak Underway in Southwestern U.S. and Northwestern Mexico

February 18, 2019

Painted Ladies have been appearing in the desert Southwest since early February, and large numbers of migrants have been spotted in several locations in southern California and northwestern Mexico since February 15.  What will happen next?  Will this be a typical outbreak of the kind we see every few years?  Or is this just the start of another phenomenal Painted Lady explosion to match the continent-wide migration of 2017? 

Although conditions seem favorable for this generation to multiply and migrate, what seems to precipitate the rare extensive and enormous migration waves is for the next several spring and summer generations in their turn to encounter optimal conditions to thrive and breed - timely rainfall, abundant nectar plants, abundant larval food plants - wherever they might go.  If that happens - and it's by no means certain at this point - we could be looking at another peak year for Painted Ladies.  We'll just have to wait and see.  In the meantime, please keep watching for them and reporting your sightings!

-- Royce Bitzer, February 18, 2019