Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Butterfly Season


These late winter warm spells like we're having today bring out what is typically the first butterfly seen each year in NJ - the Mourning Cloak. I saw one zip by today as I was walking up the sidewalk of our house (a very common view of this species). It is a gorgeous butterfly when seen from above with its yellowish trim accented by blue dots. When its wings are closed, it's cryptic as can be. One could land on a loose-barked tree like a Shagbark Hickory, wings folded, and you'd have a tough time finding it.

So why is this usually the first butterfly seen in NJ? Unlike many species, it hibernates throughout the colder months as an adult, hiding under loose bark, in debris piles, or anywhere it can find a nice dark place. On the list of the first signs of spring, seeing Mourning Cloaks is right up there with crocuses, phoebes, Red-winged Blackbirds, and all of your other favorites. Have you seen one yet this year?

5 comments:

Kiggavik said...

Hmmm. Nope, no butterflies yet. Perhaps July.

Abe said...

I have no hopes of seeing one of these until about April or the end of April to the first week or two in May.

Anonymous said...

Hi Patrick,
Yes, got my first Mourning Cloak this year on March 8, at mid day, in the State Line/Palisades Interstate Park (Bergen Co), on a trail only a hundred yards south of the NJ/NY state line. While hiking with my son and wife. Big surprise, as it was only the second warm day in a row we'd had up here. Very much enjoying your blog. Keep up the good work!
Cheers,
John Workman

Mel said...

Wow, that's a beautiful butterfly!!
On this side of the world we are slowly moving towards Autumn!
It is still warm and sunny, but working in an office, freezing due to the super cold air conditioning from 7 to 7, really doesn't help enjoy the season :(

mon@rch said...

I sooo can't wait for the butterflies to start flying! I just need to see my first Mourning Cloak or Comma flying around! Then I really know spring is here !