COLUMBUS — Colorful painted lady butterflies are fluttering around by the thousands.

An abundance of the orange-and-brown-winged butterflies are appearing in several Nebraska cities, including Columbus.

It is common to see the painted ladies this time of year as they migrate, but there have been more than usual this season.

Kelly Feehan, an educator with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension office in Columbus, said there are several factors for the boom in butterflies.

The main reason is the decent amount of rain that fell in California earlier this year.

Feehan said the moisture aids the development and survival of butterflies.

Painted ladies start their migration in California and the rain led to more flowering plants for nectar, which boosted butterfly numbers, according to Iowa State University entomologist Royce Bitzer.

The butterflies' migration can extend 9,000 miles and span six generations, said Jody Green, an entomologist with the Extension office in Lancaster County. She said the butterflies currently found in Nebraska may be migrating or preparing to lay eggs for the next cycle.

"Enjoy them, appreciate them," Green said. "Who knows when we will have a butterfly explosion again?"

The painted lady is a common type of butterfly found on every continent but Antarctica and Australia.

The butterflies won't damage plants or harm humans, but their larvae can be a concern for farmers. Painted ladies will lay their eggs on soybean plants, with the larvae feeding for two to four weeks.

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