Butterflies to migrate express

2007-03-24 12:49

Taipei - Taiwan would cordon off part of a freeway to create a safe passage for a massive seasonal butterfly migration in the coming days, an official said on Saturday.

The milkweed butterflies, which are indigenous to the island off China and have distinct white dots on purple brown wings, migrate from southern Taiwan to the north in late March, where they lay eggs and die.

The young butterflies then fly south every November to a warm mountain valley near the southern city of Kaohsiung to escape the winter cold in the north.

Conservationists say Taiwan has about two million milkweed butterflies.

To protect the migrating butterflies, a 600m stretch of freeway in southern Taiwan's Yunlin county would be sealed off as the migration peaked, said Lee Tai-ming, head of the National Freeway Bureau.

Authorities would set up nets to force the butterflies to fly higher and avoid passing cars, Lee said.

He said authorities would also install ultraviolet lights to guide the insects across a freeway overpass.

Taiwan recently began the laborious task of tracking down the butterflies' 300km migration paths.

They compare the massive migration to that of the famous monarch butterfly in Mexico.

Taiwan originally had a variety of milkweed butterflies, but the largest became extinct decades ago because they were routinely caught and made into specimens for sale, the newspaper said.