Migrating Butterflies Brighten Central Texas

American Snout Butterfly | Image by Shutterstock

As the fall season blows into Texas, more butterflies have been spotted in central regions of the state. The butterflies currently being seen in Central Texas, according to President of the Austin Butterfly Forum Dan Hardy, are the American Snout Butterfly.

Hardy spoke with meteorologist Kristen Currie from KXAN, sharing that the American Snout Butterfly comes from Mexico and South Texas, traveling to north and northeast regions during this time of year.

The denser number of these winged bugs is due to the hot and dry weather experienced in Texas over the summer, Hardy said.

“This year’s movement is a good one. Although in past years, there’s been, you know, humongous movements, sometimes hundreds of thousands or millions come through where they’ve been counted,” he shared. “It’s kind of a phenomenon, and people note about this for decades, and it’s related to weather events in South Texas and northern Mexico.”

Drought conditions in Mexico and South Texas will kill the natural predators of American Snout Butterflies, Hardy explained. Afterward, rain brings blooms of hackberries, where these insects lay their eggs. Adults feed on the hackberry leaves, and will then migrate in search of more food.

“In fact, you’ll go down to the valley, and you’ll see trees, completely denuded of leaves, hackberry trees, and then they’ll pupate and then the adults will emerge and they’ll discover that all the leaves are eaten in that area,” Hardy told KXAN. “There’s no leaves; there’s no food. So, they will migrate … just flood out of that area, going all different directions but particularly no work. Then they’ll hit areas like San Antonio, Corpus, Austin.”

In another interview with Currie and KXAN, Hardy said that Central Texans can also expect to see the Monarch Butterfly soon as the migration season for the insects begins. Monarchs migrate from Canada to Central Texas and then to Mexico.

It lasts from October to November, and another migration season in the spring sees the butterflies return to Canada.

Hardy told KXAN that those in Central Texas can expect to see the Monarch Butterflies soon.

“We’re right in the central flyway, and we’re going to see in the next few weeks, it’ll be… maybe this week, maybe the second week of October going into the end of October, beginning of November,” he said. “Those are monarchs that are moving down through Central Texas, they became adults or emerged as adults, maybe in southern Canada. And those are steadily moving all the way down as adults through Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and they’ll reach Texas for this coming month on their way to their roosting sites in Mexico.”

Hardy added that those who want to help the butterflies as they migrate can provide nectar for adults and plants for caterpillars.

Milkweed can be beneficial for the Monarch Butterfly, while hackberries are beneficial for American Snouts. Texans can help butterflies by planting these in their lawns or gardens, according to Hardy.

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