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QM on butterfly blizzard & butterflies

Ashley Clark, ‘Butterfly blizzard’ captured in beach areas, Bundaberg Now, 1 April 2020

While people are being told to self-isolate during the Coronavirus pandemic, the rules don’t seem to apply for the butterfly population with swarms of the insects inundating Queensland.

Coastal areas such as Elliott Heads and Bargara are even a hotspot for the beautiful creatures, with Lemon Migrants and Blue Tigers a common sight.

The phenomenon, often referred to as a “butterfly blizzard” is exactly what Gavin Seymour captured on film after a recent trip to Agnes Water.

“We were just walking along the walkway down by the beach two weeks ago and all of these butterflies started coming out everywhere,” he said.

“I noticed they seemed to be around a particular tree so I gave it a bit of a shake and out they came.”

Gavin quickly got out his phone to film the experience and said he was surprised by just how much noise the insects were making.

“They sounded a bit like bees, just softer,” he said.

“It was amazing to see, particularly at the beach where you don’t expect to come across something like that.”

Why do butterflies migrate?

According to the Queensland Museum, swarms of butterflies often happen when perfect weather conditions, including heat and humidity, align.

“The phenomenon of a ‘butterfly blizzard’ is often short lived, a sudden drop in temperature, rain or cloudy weather and the butterflies become ‘invisible’ again,” the Queensland Museum said.

“Some Australian butterflies species (like the Blue Tiger and Caper White) are well known for population explosions and dispersal flights.

“Although the movement of these butterflies often appears to be co-ordinated and directional, it is not true migration.”

While the butterfly blizzard is ongoing, residents can take part in a new butterfly citizen science project by Butterflies Australia.

By downloading the app, butterfly sightings can be recorded for research purposes.

Click here to find out more.

Related stories: Lemon Migrant butterflies flutter into Bundaberg

Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Lynley Crosswell, Museums Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne VIC 3001, © CAMD 2023
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