The first butterflies of spring

It’s late March. Daffodils are just poking up, and the delightful songs of spring peeper frogs have just begun. I love this time of year. Everything seems to be unfolding as it should as I wander into our back yard. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, something flits past – not a bird…. a butterfly!

It seems amazing to see a butterfly out in early spring. It’s an Eastern Comma, named for its (you guessed it!) comma-shaped marking on the underside of its hindwing.

The next day, near my front door, I saw a Mourning Cloak butterfly flitting around the porch. These species are two of the butterflies that overwinter as adults, snuggling under loose bark on trees or in other shelters in a type of insect hibernation called diapause. In fact, the Mourning Cloak may also enter diapause during a hot, dry summer, and may live for as long as ten months or so, even surpassing migrating Monarchs as our longest-lived butterflies. Our other species of comma butterflies, and our tortoiseshell butterflies, also overwinter as adults and fly about in very early spring.

The recent cold snap (actually a return to normal weather) has caused these two to seek shelter again, but they will be out looking for early spring sustenance as soon as a sunny, warm-ish day returns. I’ve seen Mourning Cloaks feeding on sweet sap seeping from a damaged maple.

It seemed like a quick look at summer to see these two beautiful butterflies flitting about.

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