Nomi Wagner Portrait Artist

Painted Ladies … Art by Mother Nature

by Nomi Wagner

Painted Ladies … Art by Mother Nature


This week Southern California is being treated to a magical visit by perhaps a billion butterflies. Painted Ladies are all around us, everywhere we look.


Measuring two to three inches, these little beauties are superfast, with speeds up to 25 mph, but gentle. I was able to take the above photograph within a couple inches of the butterflies. They were resting for a snack on the flowering shrub just outside our home.


As I look out the window now, there are maybe 30 Painted Ladies flitting around the shrub. It’s hard for me to look away in order to type this post.


We are witnessing their migration from the deserts of southeastern California to their destinations in Oregon, Washington, Canada, and possibly Alaska. Evidently it happens every year, but we’ve never noticed because there were so few in past years.


California has been in a butterfly crisis, with our beloved Monarch butterflies having dropped 85% in number this past year. See my blog post from December 2013 when they were in abundance.


But this year is different, at least for Painted Ladies. Hopefully our Monarchs will come back this next winter.


We experienced record-breaking rains this year, especially in the desert, allowing many more plants to grow than in our years of drought. When the Painted Lady butterflies laid their eggs on the large number of plants, their caterpillars were insured plenty to eat and therefore survive.


Good luck on your migration dear Painted Ladies. I’m praying for another winter of plentiful rains when you return to our California deserts later this year. And thank you, Mother Nature, for your unparalleled art and magnificent creatures. May you continue to thrive.