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Butterflies Fluttering By: Red Admirals

Hatchlings responsible for multitudes flying around

If you're seeing an inordinate amount of butterflies around, you're right. There are, experts say.

They're Red Admiral butterflies, although they at first glance do look like their more well-known cousins, the Monarch butterfly. And if you're seeing multitudes, it's because it's a birthday party.

Todd Klein, a volunteer at the Cape May Bird Observatory, said this is around the time that Red Admirals are hatching. There is some migration taking place, too, Klein said.

"But what you're likely seeing are the hatchlings from last year,'' he said. "It has just gotten warm enough that the eggs are hatching.''

The observatory tracks the movement of Monarch butterflies over time. Klein said often the Red Admiral gets confused with the Monarch because the two are similarly colored.

The sudden influx of the butterflies is called an "irruption" — a natural, cyclical population boom that causes an increase of butterflies every few years. And the unusually warm winter we had this year helped them to thrive, experts say. A boom of this size has not been seen in 12 years, according to butterfly watchers.

If you're overrun today like so many seem to be, don't forget to send in those pictures!

Tom May 06, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Your cover photo is not a red admiral (although there are red admirals in the photos below), and red admirals look Nothing like monarchs, they are less than half the size, and are mostly black with a little bit of red with white spots. There has been big movement of red admirals and another migratory butterfly, the eastern question mark, into mid and northern new jersey.
Elaine Van Develde May 06, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Thanks for the info, Tom.
Tom May 07, 2012 at 12:20 PM
You're welcome. Just re-read my post, I seemed cranky, sorry if it came across that way. My yard in middletown had over 50 red admirals yesterday, not counting the ones in flight, and on saturday there were hundreds (probably thousands) on sandy hook. The population was taking a slight hit by a very cooperative olive-sided flycatcher that was picking off the butterflies quite often. cheers.
Elaine Van Develde May 07, 2012 at 01:25 PM
WOW! Take some pics and email them to me or just upload them right to the story, Tom. That is amazing.
Tom May 08, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Ok, uploaded a few shots of red admirals and somehow i also included and american lady. Not nearly as many Red Admirals around the yard, and those that are around aren't sitting still very long, but a few long enough to get a few shots. cheers.


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