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The Butterflies Are Back: Snout-Nosed Insects Invade San Antonio Once Again

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Snout-nosed butterflies regularly invade San Antonio looking for their favorite food source: hackberry bushes.

The death of hundreds of innocent butterflies is nothing to feel good about. But there are just so many of them.

Molly Keck, an entomologist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, blamed the butterfly invasion on the healthy growth of hackberry bushes.

"Their favorite food source — and their main food source — is hackberry,” she said. “And when really fresh, it's food for the babies. And if there is enough food for the babies, more of the babies live, and then they all become adults.”

Lots of adults.

Keck also said it just so happens to be nice weather to do a little flying.

She added even though we are killing them left and right with our vehicles, they intend us no harm.

"They're not going to hurt your plants or anything like that,” she said. “As adults, they are pollinators so just kind of enjoy them. After these guys go, we will probably see some monarchs come through.”

The extension service also reports the show is short because adult snout-nosed butterflies live just a couple of weeks.

So where are they going? Nowhere.

“They're kind of just flying around,” she said. “We call it a migration, but it's not a true migration. There's no direction or endpoint. They are just flying around, looking for a place to mate or a place to lay their eggs again."

She said big blooms of butterflies are usually seen in September, and in the past, they've been nicknamed the “Labor Day butterfly.”

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian