What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Timothy Lake, Oregon
My son and I went camping at Timothy Lake, Oregon this weekend and saw the most fascinating thing. What seemed like thousands of butterflies EVERYWHERE. It was hard not to hit them as we were driving to the lake. They were on the lake shore in the hundreds. I believe they were monarch butterflies. I tried to find out if this was a regular occurrence but no one seemed to know anything about it (including the forestry center volunteers). They seemed to disappear as the sun went down and then come out of nowhere as the weather got warmer. Would you be able to help me find out if this is normal in our area (northern Oregon; Mt Hood area)? Thanks,
Jennifer

Hi Jennifer,
These are California Tortoiseshells, Nymphalis californica. According to the book “Butterflies Through Binoculars: The West”: “This species, often quite rare, has periodic irruptions and migratory movements. In irruption years the butterfly may be everywhere, with the caterpillars completely covering Ceanothus-covered hillsides.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

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