For the past few years, butterflies like the monarch have been sparse up north here in Canada due to their decline in population over the years.
Although the butterflies look very similar to monarchs, they are not the same species. The butterflies you’ve been seeing all over the Montreal area lately are actually called painted ladies.
Painted ladies are different from the monarchs in their appearance, with the monarch having orange under its wings, and the Painted ladies having a brown camouflage pattern to blend in with the ground. Also, the body of the painted lady is solid brown, unlike the monarch’s body which is brown with white spots. Painted ladies can feed on a wider variety of plants than the monarch as well.
Painted ladies normally fly at high altitudes in the sky during their migration, but wind conditions forced them to fly closer to the ground. They landed in the Greater Montreal area for a rest and to fill up on nectar before departing again down south for the winter.
There was such a high amount of these butterflies spotted in and around the city. According to Maxime Larrivée from the Montreal Insectarium, their high numbers were due to their earlier arrival up north after the winter, as well as the unprecedented summer-like weather we experienced throughout September. Lavarrée believes that this extended summer most likely allowed the painted ladies to produce another generation, and therefore twice the normal number of butterflies.
Thanks to certain wind conditions and a warm September, Montreal was the resting spot for unusually high number of a normally unseen species of butterfly in the area. Hopefully the painted ladies will visit next year as well!
Written By: India Upshaw-Ruffner