Wednesday, April 20, 2011

First-of-the-year butterflies

The weather here in the northwest is turning sunny, but is still rather cold. I've heard a margined white (Pieris marginalis) was seen flying near Olympia a few days ago, and others have seen cabbage whites and spring azures (Celastrina echo).  These butterflies all overwinter as larvae or pupae, so are among the first butterflies to emerge in the spring.  Other butterflies such as the California tortoiseshell (Nymphalis californica), mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), Milbert's tortoiseshell (Aglais milberti) and anglewings (Polygonia satyrus, gracilis, faunus) all overwinter as adults, and emerge whenever the weather warms up enough to permit them to fly.  Keep your eyes open when the temperature rises above 55-60 degrees, a flower petal drifting in the breeze just might turn out to be a butterfly!

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