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I'm not stupid, I'm from Texas!

Friday, July 21, 2006

A Plague of Butterflies Descends on Texas

July 21, 2006, 11:37AM
Central Texas sees explosion of butterflies

Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO — American snout butterflies are swarming parts of Central and South Texas as a result of erratic weather that created good conditions for the insects, experts said.

The swarms of butterflies took flight about a week ago and have been spotted across the region in places such as Eagle Pass, Hondo, San Antonio and Kerr County.

"I'd probably say in the millions across the multicounty area is a fairly safe ballpark," said Mike Quinn, a biologist with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

The snouts, which pose no danger to plants or people, are named for their flattened noses that help them resemble a dead leaf. The underside of the wing is whitish, while the top is orange, brown and white.

Quinn said snout swarms aren't unusual, but this year's is bigger than most.

The abundance is probably due to the weather, he said. The prolonged drought destroyed the flies and wasps that kill the butterfly in the caterpillar stage. Then, heavy rains that fell in early July nurtured new growth on spiny hackberry trees, resulting in food for the caterpillars and nesting environment for the butterflies.

"This last weekend it was just amazing," said Robin Nowak, of San Antonio. "I saw hundreds and hundreds of them while I was out gardening, and they were as high in the sky as we could see."

The snouts are also making their presence known in Eagle Pass, said Carol Cullar, executive director of the Rio Bravo Nature Center Foundation. On a drive Wednesday, the air was thick with butterflies and her truck was plastered with remains.

"The grackles are feeding off the roadway after the trucks pass, so it must look like manna from heaven to them," Cullar said.

The snouts don't have a discernible migration pattern and have been known to just fly around in one area.

"My strong suspicion is that they are picking up the scent of fresh vegetation in one direction or another," Cullar said.

Quinn said the swarming snouts will probably be around for about two weeks. More swarms are possible through mid-October.



At 9:03 AM , Blogger Lulu Maude said...

Straight outa One Hundred Years of Solitude! Watch out for the drowsiness to follow.


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