Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A swarm of butterflies

On the drive down to Corpus Christi on Thursday, as well as the drive home Sunday, I was amazed by the swarms of butterflies flittering across the roads. At first I thought they might be leaves or debris being blown by wind, but I soon figured this wasn't the case. They were small butterflies, but what they lacked in size they made up for in numbers--dozens in a cluster, sometimes hundreds, and total volume reaching well into the tens of thousands every mile. They're also in New Braunfels and San Marcos now. I see them on my daily commute on I-35. They're roosting (do butterflies roost?) in the pecan trees on campus by the thousands. Then I discovered this article, and all was explained:
The prolonged drought, interrupted by a few days of heavy rains, has spawned an explosion of American snout butterflies across Central and South Texas, experts say.

"I'd probably say in the millions across the multicounty area is a fairly safe ballpark," said Texas Parks & Wildlife Department biologist Mike Quinn, who is hearing reports of butterfly swarms across the region.

The snouts — named for their flattened noses that help them resemble a dead leaf — started flittering en masse at least a week ago and have been spotted across the region, from Eagle Pass to Hondo, in Kerr County and San Antonio.


Snout swarms aren't uncommon, Quinn said, but one of this scope is unusual. Its likely cause is a combination of the drought and the soaking rains that fell across the area in early July.

The drought probably destroyed many of the parasitic flies and wasps that kill the butterfly in the caterpillar stage.

The ensuing rain then prompted new growth on the area's spiny hackberry trees, providing a good environment for nesting snouts, and tasty leaves for the hungry caterpillars, he said.

So. Millions of butterflies. That's not something you see every day. Even though they're somewhat drab compared to species such as, say, Monarchs or Swallowtails, you've got to admit swarms of this size are pretty darn impressive.

Now Playing: The Kinks The Great Lost Kinks Album

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:38 PM

    i have to agree with you on how cool all the butterflies are. i like your blog man, you got some interesting stuff.