The early spring butterflies will be flying around soon.
Butterfly and Overwintering
The chilly air keeps them safely overwintering in tree crevices, nooks and crannies. Butterflies being solar creatures aren’t really around until the weather really heats up.The days and nights have to be consistently 60° Fahrenheit or 16° Celsius, before they are flying.
Adult Butterflies in Early Spring
As the sun beats down,early spring adult butterflies will be sipping nectar, mating and laying eggs. Butterflies don’t sip nectar in the shade, and you’ll find them in open sunny areas with flowers blooming in profusion.
This early in the season, the early blooming flowers that attract bumble bees are available for butterflies also. So, planting the same flowers for bumble bees will attract the early spring butterflies to your garden.
A List of the Early Spring Butterflies
Some of the early spring butterflies are:
- Cabbage Whites
- Mourning Cloaks
- Eastern Commas
- Spring Azure
- Falcate Orangetips
- various Elfins
- Juvenal’s Duskywing
- Cobweb Skipper
The Early Spring Butterflies That Overwinter as Adults
The early spring butterflies listed below overwinter as adults in nooks and crannies. You may see these species in the early in the season and they will probably look very ragged. In spring, the wings can look torn and beat up.
- Mourning Cloaks
- Red Admirals
- Questions Marks
- Eastern Comma
- Cabbage White
- Orange Sulphur
- Clouded Sulphur
Keeping Butterfly Emergent Dates in a Nature Journal
By keeping a nature journal, will let you know when to expect to see your first spring butterfly.
I generally see my first butterfly the first week of April. On April 2nd 2010, a Cabbage White appeared in my garden.. And also in 2007. In 2008, the first Cabbage White was spotted on April 8th.
The Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) is the first butterfly I see in Philadelphia. It isn’t an indigenous species, but a stowaway from Europe.
What are the first butterflies in your neck of the woods?
More Butterfly Information
Nature in Spring: A Table of Contents
Observing Butterflies At Home and Far Away
Thanks for your article. It was very helpful and enabled me to identify a butterfly that I saw today – 20.Feb.2017. It was a mourning cloak that had obviously overwinteredas an adult. It was flying in a woods edge on a sunnt 55 degree day in Chester Springs, PA (near Phoenixville).
Thanks for contacting me and letting me know. And thanks for reading In Season.
I can’t believe you saw a Mourning Cloak this early! Then again the snowdrops that have naturalized in my garden have been in full bloom for two weeks now.