IBE (CSIC-UPF): Gerard Talavera's expedition to Chad featured in National Geographic

IBE (CSIC-UPF): Gerard Talavera's expedition to Chad featured in National Geographic

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Lepidopterists Gerard Talavera and Roger Vila, a National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration grantee, explored the southern fringes of the Sahel and the subtropical savannah in Africa in search of a unique spectacle: the massive arrival of European-born Vanessa cardui butterflies after an unparalleled migration.

"It was early October and somewhere in the middle of the Sahelian Chad, thousands of V. cardui butterflies were flying south at high speed. For two hours they were everywhere. They were old specimens—showing broken and worn-out wings with little coloration—but still incredibly fast and active. They were surely coming from a very long trip and probably anxious to finally reach their breeding sites.

"After tracing the butterflies for a few days we ended up in the Guera Mountains in central Chad. This photo captures the beauty of sunsets in the mountains after strenuous days collecting at 40°C. But here the valleys were filled with flowers, and for the first time we saw a different behavior in the butterflies. Instead of hurrying to continue their journey, they stayed here in the valleys, resting and feeding on the flowers. From the Guera and all the way south to Zakouma National Park, they had found their promised land.

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Original article at the National Geographic website