Winter and Butterflies

It’s winter here in the northern hemisphere and butterflies are scarce. Here at our farm, the low tomorrow is predicted to be 29 degrees Fahrenheit. Where are butterflies when it is so cold?

Tiger Swallowtail butterflies stay in chrysalis all winter until new leaves grow on their host trees

Tiger Swallowtail butterflies stay a
Chrysalis all winter until new leaves
Grow on their host trees

We understand that Monarch butterflies from the eastern US and eastern Canada migrate to Mexico in the fall and Monarchs west of the Continental Divide migrate to the coast of California and to Mexico for the winter. What about other species?

Tawny Emperor butterfly caterpillars in winter hibernacula

Tawny Emperor butterfly caterpillars
In their winter hibernacula
Host tree leaf sewn shut
Caterpillars hiding inside

They spend the winter in various ways, according to species. Some migrate south and continue their normal life cycle in warmer climates, their offspring migrating north in the spring. Others spend the winter as an egg, a caterpillar, a chrysalis, or an adult butterfly all winter. Some eggs, caterpillars, and chrysalises stay buried in the snow for months!

You can learn more by clicking on this sentence to visit our ‘Where Do Butterflies Go In The Winter?’ web page.

Monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico

Monarch butterflies overwintering
Mexico overwintering location
Photo by Bill Berthet

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