Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chasing March Butterflies

Last year at this time we had several feet of snow on the ground and were worried about flooding in the St. Croix River Valley.

This year, it's March 18th and I'm out chasing butterflies in 80 degree weather.

The warm weather has stymied the maple sap run throughout most of the Upper Midwest, and what little sap is seeping from the trees attracts dozens of insects, including the first butterflies of the year.

At first I thought there was just one species, but after much patience with the camera, it looks like there may be three, all of which hibernate as adults. (and, since I'm doing all this ID using my "Golden Guide on Butterflies and Moths," please let me know if I've mis-ID'd something!)

The first one I spotted was the Comma:

Here's the silhouette of a Comma drinking sap from the maple:

This one I immediately noticed was different because of the light edging on the wings:

Here's a side view that shows the dark texture of the wings:

 Then it opened. It's a Mourning Cloak:

Thought I'd try to get a better shot of the Comma and realized that this butterfly was not a Comma. Turns out it's a Compton Tortoise Shell:

Here's the underside of the Compton's wings:

This one just makes me smile:

Can't think of a better way to spend a March day! Might have to check the trees out tonight to see if moths visit...


  1. Nice! I'm still waiting on the butterflies here.

  2. Great photographs. I haven't seen any butterflies here in Maine yet we do have very warm weather.

  3. I love your work! Seeing your pictures helped me remember a dream I had last night. I was looking for birds, but all I saw were butterflies.

    I'd Rather Be Birding!