Is It Raining Butterflies? | 70-Mile Wave of Butterflies Shows Up On Denver’s Weather Radar

Chris Wallner |
Denver’s radar. Image: Denver NWS

On Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017 Denver’s weather radar was lit up by a 70-mile wave of painted lady butterflies. It was reported that the butterflies were loosely spaced, but they were all over the place. The colors on the radar are not those of the butterflies, they represent their shape and direction of travel, which was northwest.

Painted Lady Butterfly. Image: Vanessa cardui

The painted lady is a large butterfly (wing span 5–9 cm (2.0–3.5 in)) identified by the black and white corners of its mainly deep orange, black-spotted wings. It has five white spots in the black forewing tips and while the orange areas may be pale here and there, there are no clean white dots in them. The hindwings carry four small sub marginal eyespot son the dorsal and ventral sides. Those on the dorsal side are black, but in the summer morph sometimes small blue pupils are present.

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