The whole of the Muğla region was enthralled on Sunday as millions of painted lady butterflies passed through on their migration from North Africa to Europe.

One of the world’s most widespread species, the colourful butterflies – brown on the underside of their wings but orange, black and white above – took advantage of stiff, southerly winds to cross the Mediterranean.

Aided by the breeze, their speeds can reach up to 30 miles an hour but, because their migratory flight on this occasion was only six to ten feet off the ground, they were hard not to notice.

Reports of the migration came in from as far away as Cappadocia, with streams passing though the region from early morning until dusk.

Some will stay in our region of Turkey but others will continue moving north, as far as France and the UK and even on into Scandinavia.

A slightly travel-worn painted lady picks precarious place for a breather during the migration on Sunday. Picture by Steve Parsley.

If you’d like to know more about them, here are six more facts about the painted lady you may not have heard before:

  • The painted lady is the world’s most widely-distributed butterfly, present on every continent except Australia and Antarctica.
  • Each butterfly can cover an impressive distance during their migration, sometimes more than 100 miles in a day.
  • They don’t always migrate at low level, as was the case over the weekend. Sometimes, they will fly at a much higher altitude, undetected until they arrive abruptly at their destination.
  • Painted lady butterflies do not fly south for winter; they simply die out. Any seen in colder countries in summer this year will have flown there.
  • They’re also known as the thistle butterfly as the caterpillars enjoy feeding on them and the cosmopolitan butterfly as they are so widespread.
  • The painted lady is an irruptive migrant – it does not wait for a particular time of year but will migrate when conditions are right. It would seem Sunday was perfect …
A honey bee and a painted lady share the apple blossom. Picture by Steve Parsley.