If you have friends or family out west, chances are you've seen a photo or 20,000 of the super bloom of wildflowers covering the deserts of Southern California this month. In addition to drawing "Disneyland-size crowds"-even causing some small towns to cut off access to wildflower-viewing areas because it's becoming "unbearable"-these expansive areas are also attracting millions of migrating butterflies to the state in a swarm.
Don't worry if you have questions though, because I did, too! Here's everything you need to know about the super bloom and butterfly swarm:
What is a super bloom?
According to National Geographic, a super bloom "is a colloquial term used to define an explosion of wildflowers that exceeds typical spring blooms."
This phenomena likely occurred because of SoCal's unusually rainy fall and winter, followed by cold temperatures, which "locked more moisture into the ground."
Where can I see super blooms?
Currently, the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (California's largest state park) in Southeastern California is covered in greenery, poppies, primroses, and lilies and is considered to be experiencing a super bloom because it's usually relatively bare, Nat Geo explains.
This "explosion of wildflowers" in California deserts is so intense, BBC reports, that it can actually be seen from outer space.
How long can we see the super bloom in Southern California?
Annually, visitors can see gorgeous colors in the California deserts beginning in mid-March and lasting through the end of the month, though this year is particularly bright and colorful because of the super bloom.
"This is probably the first big bloom in at least 12 years and maybe more like 20 years," Sally Theriault, state park interpreter with the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
VISITORS' GUIDE How to Have the Best Wildflowers Experience Amid Super Bloom
For details on the best times of day to visit (hint: probably not the afternoon), where to go, and how to best view them, check out the guide above.
Why are butterflies swarming Southern California?
Because of the super bloom in the deserts of California, painted lady butterflies (which are black and orange and tend to be mistaken for monarchs) are migrating north from the U.S.-Mexico border as they do annually to "feast."
CNN shares that because of the abundance of plants for their butterflies to lay eggs on and caterpillars to eat, painted ladies thrive during a super bloom. Because of this, University of California, Davis, professor Art Shapiro (who has been studying migration patterns of butterflies in California since 1972), told CNN that "This is the biggest outbreak since 2005."
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