It’s all about energy this morning. I stepped outside to recharge my batteries and found painted lady butterflies everywhere. This time to year the painted ladies (Vanessa cardui) are migrating south, with rest stops in places like Phoenix where they can bask in the sun and drink lot’s of nectar from the pretty flowers everyone plants.
It’s in the low 50’s this morning, so the first butterflies I saw were basking on a wall with their wings directed to catch the sun. They are like mini-solar panels.
Why are they basking? Insects bask in the sun to warm the flights muscles prior to flying.
I knew where there were some lantana plants in the sun, so I went to see what was going on there.
More painted lady butterflies basking and drinking nectar. They weren’t cooperative at first, but after sitting still on a cold sidewalk for a few minutes, I was able to get a few good shots.
Here's one basking on a Texas sage.
Seeing all these beautiful butterflies was a real charge for me. I hope other people notice them too.
If you are interested in learning more, or if you see painted ladies migrating and you'd like to participate in a study, check out the
2008 Vanessa Migration Project. Updated 2019: The study is now at Iowa State