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Freeway lane closed for purple crow butterfly migration

2019/03/21 21:30:04

Photo courtesy of Chen Jui-hsiang (陳瑞祥)

Taipei, March 21 (CNA) The outer lane on a northbound freeway in southern Taiwan was closed Thursday to protect large swarms of purple crow butterflies heading north as part of their seasonal migration, according to a butterfly preservation association.

Chen Jui-hsiang (陳瑞祥), deputy head of the Taiwan Purple Crow Butterfly Ecological Preservation Association, said as many as 700 butterflies per minute flew along freeway No. 3 heading north in Yunlin's Linnei Township that day.

When asked why the Freeway Bureau only closed the outer lane, Chen said it was because when the butterflies reached the second lane, the wind lifted them to a height above most vehicles.

Furthermore, the outer lane is usually closed when swarms of 250 butterflies per minute are detected, Chen said.

In addition to closing the outer northbound lane, at around 10 a.m., a volunteer responsible for catching and marking butterflies caught one with the marking "MT217" on its wing, which indicates it was marked in Kaohsiung's Maolin District on Feb. 17, Chen said.

Photo courtesy of Chen Jui-hsiang (陳瑞祥)

The southern port city's Maolin National Scenic Area marked over 8,000 butterflies that day, Chen said, adding that it shows the butterfly flew approximately 150 kilometers to Linnei in 33 days.

Maolin National Scenic Area on Feb. 17 / Photo courtesy of Chen Jui-hsiang (陳瑞祥)

This also proves the butterflies fly north as part of their natural migration, Chen noted, explaining that the species are known to fly to the warmer temperatures of southern Taiwan in late autumn and early winter and return north the following spring.

As it is currently peak migration period, Chen urged motorists on the freeway in the Linnei area to drive carefully.

(By Chiang Chun-liang and William Yen)