Sun, Apr 16, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Formosa Freeway closed for migrating butterflies

Staff writer, with CNA

Massive flocks of purple crow butterflies on Friday began their migration from Kaohsiung to the north, prompting freeway authorities to close a section of the Formosa Freeway (National Freeway No. 3) to protect the butterflies from vehicles traveling at high speeds.

The migration began on a clear day after several days of rain, with more than 900 purple crows a minute flying north from Kaohsiung’s Maolin District (茂林), the Taiwan Purple Crow Butterfly Ecological Preservation Association said.

Yunlin County’s Linnei Township (林內) is a key rest stop for the butterflies and the Taiwan Area National Freeway Bureau closed the northbound outer lane of the freeway at about 11:30am to protect the insects.

Despite protective netting raised along the freeway, many butterflies were killed throughout the day, the association said.

It said the scale of Friday’s migration of purple crows, one of the most common butterfly species in Taiwan, was the largest in nearly five years.

No massive flocks of migrating purple crows have been seen until this month, about 15 days late compared with their normal migration in past years, the association said, attributing the delay to climate change.

Mexican monarchs and purple crows — Euploea tulliolus — are two species of winter-migrating butterflies.

Unlike Mexican monarchs, which live in mountainous areas 3,000m above sea level, purple crows live north of the Tropic of Cancer in gorges no higher than 500m above sea level, then usually migrate to warmer valley forests in October.

Their main wintering sites are in Kaohsiung’s Maolin District and Taitung County’s Dawu Township (大武), then they fly north along the border between the Central Mountain Range’s western mountain areas and plains.

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