Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

three snowflakes

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, it is the one that is the most adaptable to change. – Charles Darwin

Anise Swallowtail Chrysalis

Survival of the Chrysalis...This Anise Swallowtail chrysalis will just have to hang with the cool weather until the spring rays return.

Bronze Copper Butterfly Egg

Mom laid this Bronze Copper butterfly egg safely nestled in some dried leaves, close to where its host plant will come up in the spring.

butterfly snowflake 2

When reflecting on butterflies, visions of warm sunshiny days may fill one’s mind. It is not usual to think of a butterfly and to also invoke images of such things as snow, sleet or sub-zero temperatures. Many species of butterflies, however, have had to, over time, consider, adapt to and survive such wintry conditions.

It is true that some butterflies, such as the well known Monarch, spread their wings and flutter south to escape Old Man Winter, but various others are not so flighty. Take, for example, the Bronze Copper, it withstands the cool weather as a wee little egg. Curled-up leaves, buried deep beneath the snow, create the ideal escape and lodging for caterpillars such as Tawny Emperors, Fritillaries, Crecents and Checkerspots.

Mourning Cloak Butterfly

Mourning Cloak butterflies need to find shelter in a wood pile or under some bark to survive the first frost.

Swallowtails, Sulphurs and Whites, bear the hardships of winter by hiding out and undergoing metamorphosis as a chrysalis. Red-Spotted Purples and other Admirals build their very own shelter, called a hibernaculum. This is a miniature abode made just for hibernating as its name suggests. Mourning Cloaks, Commas and Question Marks, face the wintertide as adult butterflies. They look for a place to safely hibernate, seeking such refuges as wood piles or tree bark.

Which ever way they do it, hats, scarves and mittens off to the amazingly adaptable butterflies who endure Jack Frost’s torment. Come springtime, I think I can speak for all, in saying how grateful we are for your tenacious and triumphant perseverance!

butterfly snowflake 2

Twany Emperor Caterpillar

A Tawny Emperor caterpillar searches for a cozy curled leaf where it can safely hibernate under a blanket of snow.

A Red-Spotted Purple caterpillar emerges from its self-made winter shelter or hibernaculum.

A Red-Spotted Purple caterpillar emerges from its self-made winter shelter or hibernaculum.

three snowflakes

butterflies sunflower snow

Above are photographs of the butterflies featured pictorially in this blog, going clockwise… Red Spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis), Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton), Bronze Copper (Lycaena hyllus) & Anise Swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) at center.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!


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One Response to Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!
  1. Juliana
    November 24, 2009 | 10:02 pm

    Dear Obsession With Butterflies staff,

    I heard about you good folk through a new friend…I have just started to sketch butterflies and I needed some inspiration.

    I just had to say how pretty your blog is. It is like visiting a beautifully appointed, English country garden. Graceful and lovely!

    Hoping your day is going well!

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