Swarms of Butterflies Are Taking Over Central Texas

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by Zul Kilfi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Fall is officially here, but in central Texas, butterflies are absolutely swarming. With cold weather slowly creeping nearer, why exactly are the butterflies swarming the Lonestar State in the first place?

According to WKRN, the unusually hot and dry weather in the region this fall is to blame. The butterflies specifically warming central TX are called the American snout butterfly. The butterflies get their name from a structure on their face shaped like a snout. The feature is formed by “elongated mouthparts.”

While Texans are enjoying the unusual sight, the outlet states this event only happens every year or so. Dan Hardy, president of the Austin Butterfly Forum, provided a little more insight into Texas’s butterfly boom.

“We’re seeing a lot of butterflies called snout butterflies, [or] the American snout. And it’s kind of an exciting time of the year for us because we have these giant explosions of these butterflies that come out of South Texas and Mexico, stream through Austin, and kind of hit north, northeast,” he explained.

Hardy also said that snout butterflies are harmless to humans. Of their eating habits, he said they typically feast on hackberries. Hackberries grow on large deciduous trees and are a member of the elm family.

While the swarm of Texas butterflies tends to return annually or biannually, Hardy said this year’s boom is especially remarkable.

“This year’s movement is a good one,” the Austin butterfly expert added. “Although, in past years, there’s been, you know, humungous movements, sometimes hundreds of thousands or millions coming through where they’ve been counted.”

Per the outlet, 1996 was an especially prominent year for the Texas butterfly migration. It was then that “countless butterflies were observed flying across highways.”

Gorilla Shows Serious Appreciation for Butterflies in Viral Pic

A viral photo from last year shows that some gorillas appreciate butterfly swarms as much as Central Texas locals.

The image shows an extremely content gorilla, eyes closed, its weight braced on its forepaws as a swarm of butterflies surrounds him. The large animal almost smiles as the little creatures flit through the air. The image, captured by UK photographer Anup Shah and titled “Beauty and the Beast,” shows a lowland gorilla surrounded by a massive butterfly swarm. The clarity of the foreground emphasizes the mass number of butterflies flying around.

Shah’s photo was entered in The Nature Conservancy’s 2021 photo contest which saw over 100,000 submissions.

Meg Goldthwaite, a member of The Nature Conservancy, spoke about the importance of the organization’s work and the significance of the photo contest.

“Year after year, we are amazed, delighted, and moved by these scenes from around the world,” she said. “They remind us how connected we all are on this planet, and energize us as we continue the important work of conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends.”