Video: Butterfly invasion

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 8/3/2006 7:33:45 PM ET 2006-08-03T23:33:45

Along the Mexico-Texas border, there is an abundance of spectacular butterflies.

But this isn't about them. This is about a dull, little brown butterfly which you'd quickly forget — except for its preposterously huge nose.

"Looks almost like a leaf, the way that snout comes off the head of the butterfly," saysone butterfly enthusiast.

And its unreal ability to reproduce.

Due to perfect breeding conditions here, billions — not millions — billions of brown "American snouts" are migrating across Texas in historic numbers.

"I wouldn't call the snout spectacular," says another observer.

You'd think butterfly lovers would be ecstatic, but no. The problem is, these parts have more than 300 exotic, beautifully colored butterflies, and the snouts are, well, just snouts.

"They're not a calendar butterfly, no," says Professor Lawrence Gilbert of the University of Texas-Austin about the brown American snout.

Gilbert, arguably the world's leading snout expert, says the problem is not so much that snouts are underappreciated, it's that they're a mess.

"Your windshield is covered with butter, and your radiator grill is so covered you can overheat in the South Texas heat," he says.

"I felt so bad driving the entire way, splattering them all over my brand new car," says naturalist Jennifer Owen.

Notice she emphasized her brand new car, and she's a Texas park naturalist.

"It took me more than an hour to clean it off and get all the bug guts off," she says. "They were really well stuck."

Long haulers like Joe Henry get a snout full every mile or so.

"This thing is just covered with 'em," says Henry as he looks at his truck.

But before you judge South Texans too harshly, remember, biologists say snouts are way overpopulated this year, and there may be a billion more brown-nosers headed their way.

"I think they are great," says Gilbert. "I think that is a beautiful snout they have got."

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