There is a cute saying we quote to children, "snug as a bug in a rug". That is very true when it comes to the survival of our backyard bugs and butterflies during the harsh, cold winter months.
Most of us are aware of the long migration south of the Monarch butterlies, but butterflies and other insects do not migrate. They cleverly hidden in the landscape.
Butterflies and other insects slow down their metabolisms in a process called diapause. They rid most of the water from their bodies to avoid freezing and there are certain chemicals in their bodies that act as antifreeze.
Different types of butterflies are in various stages of their life cycles during the winter months. Some will overwinter as an egg or ovum, some as a larva or caterpillar, some as a pupa or chrysalis and some as adults.
In order to accomplish any of this, butterflies need the proper conditions. There is a reason nature seems to be so untidy by late autumn when everything dies back for the winter. Without places of shelter in leaf litter, tree bark, plant stalks, seed heads and brush piles, these insects wouldn't survive.
This is why it is so important to hold off on your garden clean up until spring. Raking, bagging and disposing of all those fall leaves is actually destroying countless insects. If you want your yard and garden to come alive again in the spring, you simply cannot interfere with too much cleaning up and cutting back.
Below are a few examples of where our flying flower beauties go for the winter:
The Viceroys, who look so much like the Monarchs,are in the caterpillar stage. The chew a leaf into a certain shape, roll up inside it to form a tent form and then fasten to a plant stalk.
The Swallowtails are at their chrysalis stage
|Eastern Tiger Swallowtail|
Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) - Chrysalis
Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus) - Chrysalis
Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) - Chrysalis
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio canadensis) - Chrysalis
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) - Chrysalis
Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) - Chrysalis
Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) - Chrysalis
Mustard White (Pieris napi) - Chrysalis
Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice) - Chrysalis
Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme) - Chrysalis
Coral Hairstreak (Satyrium titus) - Egg
Edwards’ Hairstreak (Satyrium edwardsii) - Egg
Eastern Tailed-Blue (Everes comyntas) - Caterpillar
Karner Blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) (rare, endangered) - Egg
Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) - Chrysalis
Monarch (Danaus plexippus) - Migrant
Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) - Migrant
Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele) - Caterpillar
Aphrodite Fritillary (Speyeria aphrodite) - Caterpillar
Atlantis Fritillary (Speyeria atlantis) - Caterpillar
Silver-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene) - Caterpillar
Meadow Fritillary (Boloria bellona) - Caterpillar
Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis) - Caterpillar
Harris' Checkerspot (Chlosyne harrisii) - Caterpillar
Northern Crescent (Phyciodes cocyta) - Caterpillar
Baltimore (Euphydryas phaeton) - Caterpillar
Gray Comma (Polygonia progne) - Adult Hibernation
Compton Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis vaualbum) - Adult Hibernation
Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) - Adult Hibernation
Milbert's Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis milberti) - Adult Hibernation
American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) - Migrant
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) - Migrant
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - Migrant
Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) - Migrant
Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax) - Caterpillar
White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis arthemis) - Caterpillar
Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) - Caterpillar
Northern Pearly Eye (Enodia anthedon) - Caterpillar
Little Wood Satyr (Megisto cymela) - Caterpillar
Common Wood-Nymph (Cercyonis pegala) - Caterpillar
Tawny-edged Skipper (Polites themistocles) - Chrysalis
Peck’s Skipper (Polites peckius) - Caterpillar