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SCV Outdoor Report – A Butterfly Superhighway…

By Wendy Langhans

This week we're right smack in the middle of a butterfly superhighway.  My
first inkling of this was a few days ago, as I pulled out of the parking lot at
Trader Joe's.  I spotted a quickly moving smear of color – orange, black
and white – flying in a choppy arc towards the Santa Clara River. 
Ah…the Painted Ladies are back!


Painted Lady
butterflies often migrate north around March or April – heading to Oregon and British
Columbia.  But their numbers are usually
smaller.  The last time we had a superhighway-sized migration was March of


Painted Lady Butterfly (photo courtesy Dr. Paul Levine)


Painted Ladies begin their migration in our southwestern deserts and northern Mexico. 
When the desert has received sufficient winter rains, plants begin to grow,
providing ample food for the butterfly larvae. 


Click here
for an amazing time-lapse video showing how the Painted Lady caterpillar
transforms from a larvae into a butterfly.  First, it sheds its skin to
form a pupa and 12-14 days later, emerges from its chrysalis as a butterfly.


Painted Lady
feed on a wide variety of plants, such as lupine and thistles. 
When enough Painted Lady butterflies have emerged, they head north.  


A caterpillar-eyed view north across the Santa Clarita Valley.


No one really knows for sure what triggers their migration.  Population
pressure, more daylight, warmer temperatures?  I like to think it has
something to do with the lure of the open road:


        "Green, green, it's green ,
they say

        On the far side of the hill

        Green, green, I'm going away

        To where the grass is greener


        – "Green,Green" by The New
Christy Minstrels, 1963



Upcoming Outdoor Events: 


Saturday, March 21, 8:00-10:00 AM.  Morning Bird Hike in Towsley Canyon.
 Towsley Canyon is a year-round home for
birds.  They like our Mediterranean climate, the local bounty and the California
sunshine.  Bring your binoculars and meet at the entrance.  Heavy
rain cancels.  For map and directions go here.

Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.


Saturday, March 21, 10-12 AM.  Wildflower hike at Elsmere Canyon.

Heavy rain cancels.  For map and directions go here
Park at the entrance to Whitney

Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.


Saturdays, March 28, and every Wednesday, 8:00 AM.  Trail Maintenance
Volunteers at Towsley

Come join our trail maintenance volunteers for camaraderie and a heart-thumping
workout.  For more information contact Steve
at 661-291-1565.





You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on
"The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS
(AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.


For the complete MRCA hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, click here or go to  

SCV Outdoor Report – A Butterfly Superhighway…

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