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Horde of migrating Painted Lady butterflies show up on weather radar

Remember those painted lady butterflies that were showing up in gardens across the upper Midwest just a few weeks ago? In their move back south, they made their presence known in a big way.On Tuesday, Oct. 3, the National Weather Service in Bould...

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Painted Lady butterflies collect nectar from dahlia flowers Sept. 4 in West Fargo. David Samson / The Forum

Remember those painted lady butterflies that were showing up in gardens across the upper Midwest just a few weeks ago? In their move back south, they made their presence known in a big way.

On Tuesday, Oct. 3, the National Weather Service in Boulder, Colo., shared a radar image on Twitter that they initially identified as a possible flock of birds, asking bird experts in the area with help identifying them:

Look at what's flying into Denver! Radar from last hour showing what we believe to be birds. Any bird experts know what kind? #ornithology pic.twitter.com/EAqzdMwpFU - NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) October 3, 2017

On Wednesday, the weather service said that the radar blip wasn’t caused by birds, as is commonly the case for such phenomena. After a number of reports from eyewitnesses, the weather service said that the 70-mile wide radar blob was in fact caused by butterflies.

The winged wonders have been numerous in Colorado over the past few weeks, The Denver Post reported , and their reputation preceded them.

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“I have been getting phone calls from people all over the Front Range in many different counties,” lepidopterist Sarah Garrett told the Post. “Last week, I spoke to folks in North Dakota and South Dakota who have seen them. They are making their way progressively through these Western states.”

The butterflies will eventually settle down for the winter in Arizona, New Mexico and northwestern Mexico, the Post said.

Related Topics: SCIENCE
Kris Kerzman is the social media manager for InForum.
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