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  • Last modified 32 days ago (Sept. 21, 2017)

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Orange and black impostors flutter through county

Swarming butterflies are not monarchs

Staff writer

Swarms of orange and black butterflies are fluttering through the county, but do not be fooled. These are not monarchs.

“These butterflies look very different from monarchs,” said K-State entomology extension leader Raymond Cloyd. “They should be easy to tell apart, even for a novice.”

They are a little bit smaller, a much more erratic flyer, and they are noticeably gray and brown compared to monarchs.

These are painted ladies, and it is likely that residents of the county will see many more of these butterflies — as well as other butterflies, including monarchs — than usual.

Warmer weather down south allowed painted ladies to flourish.

“The hurricane and weather down south has since pushed them northward to us,” Cloyd said.

But they won’t be here for long, Cloyd said, and it is not because they are migrating away.

Unlike monarch butterflies’ north-south migration period that will lead them through the county any time now, painted ladies will likely not escape cold weather soon to hit the county.

With a life span of anywhere from two weeks to one month, painted ladies will likely breed, lay eggs, and then die here.

“It is a beautiful sight seeing them feeding on the nectar of many, many plants, but they will eventually die out,” Cloyd said. “The cold weather will kill them as soon as plants begin to die. I try not to predict, but we can probably expect to see them for at least a few more weeks.”

Last modified Sept. 21, 2017

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