Painted Lady Butterfly Migration Colors APU’s Campus

by Abigail Reed

Glints of orange and black flutter by students walking to class and reading in the sun at Azusa Pacific University, as Southern California’s wet winter gives way to a colorful celebration of life during an unusually large Painted Lady butterfly migration.

Unlike many other species, these small, colorful butterflies only migrate when environment and weather conditions are conducive to success. This year, due to large amounts of rainfall in Southern California, a wildflower super bloom sustains millions of Painted Lady caterpillars, fuels their transformation, and provides food along the way. In a race to reach Oregon and Washington, millions of butterflies speed up to 25 miles per hour over freeways, mountains, deserts, and APU’s Azusa campus. The sheer size of this migration has been unprecedented since 2005.

“The migration miracle adds yet another dimension to the already magical creatures,” said Ann Croissant, Ph.D., professor emeritus. “Their flight patterns and lessons of persistence give us much to observe and ponder.”

As the delicate butterflies travel more than a thousand miles north, the migration allows the APU community to wonder at the intricacy of God’s creation. From biology professors to art students, the phenomenon offers inspiration for all—whether through stories, poems, photography, sketches, or equations predicting flight patterns. While observing, however, take special care to respect their journey and allow them to continue on their path as they courageously speed toward their destination.

“We can all enjoy their journey by slowing down a bit and simply taking notice,” said Croissant. “Whether you are studying, walking, or driving, give the Painted Ladies a courtesy wave as they pass through.”

Abigail Reed is a public relations intern in the Office of University Relations. She is a liberal studies major with an honors humanities minor.