Ground Beetles and Painted Ladies butterflies have shown up in Pratt in larger numbers.

Pratt is being invaded. Butterflies and beetles have been showing up all over town and in an abundance that many have noticed.

The ground beetles and the Painted Lady butterflies are both making their presence known from downtown businesses for the beetles to flower gardens across the city for the Painted Ladies.

The Painted Ladies have a lot of host plants and in a year where there was ample moisture, many of the host plants are doing well and the butterflies are taking advantage of the situation.

"They are doing very well this year," said Sarah Zukoff, entomologist for Kansas State University Extension.

Painted Ladies are the most widely distributed butterfly in the world appearing in Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and South America, according to Royce Blitzer, Iowa State University entomologist.

The butterflies tend to migrate from the deserts of the American Southwest and Northern New Mexico following rainy periods in the deserts. They prefer old fields, vacant lots, gardens and prairies, Blitzer said in a article on butterflies.

Besides good moisture producing lots plants this year, Painted Ladies are not picky eaters and will feast off a wide variety of plants.

"They are not picky. They have a lot of host plants," Zukoff said.

As long as the weather is mild and there are lots of host plants in bloom, there will be an abundance of Painted Ladies in the Pratt area to feed and lay eggs. Once the weather starts to turn colder, they will migrate out of the area to warmer temperatures.

The abundance of Painted Ladies covers a wide portion of the country that includes Pratt. With warmer weather in the forecast, the butterflies will probably remain in the area for a while longer this year.

While Painted Ladies feeding on plants from the air, ground beetles are feasting on seeds on the ground. Those same abundant rains earlier in the year that produced the plants for butterflies has also produced plants that produce the seeds for ground beetles.

There are numerous species of brown beetle and anyone walking in the downtown area of Pratt is likely to see them on the sidewalks and in front of stores as well as inside.

These are predatory beetles that attack seed populations. This helps keep down populations of unwanted weed seeds so having the beetles around is beneficial to farmers and gardeners, Zukoff said.

The beetle population has been evident in Pratt especially in the downtown area. Talena Martin, a certified pesticide applicator, said the beetles like the heat off concrete and they like moisture. She has seen numerous beetles while she sprays downtown businesses.

"They've really taken over downtown," Martin said.

The beetles are getting into downtown business as well as showing up on the sidewalks. They are attracted to light so that attracts them to go inside, Zukoff said.

Any opening in a building can be an entrance way for beetles. Mike Rader, regional coordinator for Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, said the have had beetles at their facilities and that their stairwells were full of them.

But the beetles are good at eating lots and lots of weed seeds that help keep the weed populations down in fields. They, and other predator species, are especially active during the weeks following the time when weeds shed their seeds, according to a report by eOrganic author Mark Schonbeck, Virginia Association of Biological Farming for the eXtension website.

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