It is still winter here in Southwest Michigan and if you are like me, longing for warmer weather and “butterfly season” to begin. The term “Cabin Fever” feels like it has a lot of meaning. Although most butterflies aren’t really active until at least May, there are signs it’s getting closer. Spring officially starts on March 20, but you may hear the term meteorological spring which basically divides the seasons by month. So March, April, May, is classified as spring. Still doesn’t feel like it, but this is the first week in seemingly forever that the high temp every day is forcasted to get above 32F/0C. It also appears that some animals have started to notice.
There are some birds that do not overwinter very much further south than Michigan. Some might not even migrate at all but find a good location to hunker down nearby. When a little warmth arrives they start moving around looking for suitable future nesting spots, returning to established ones, and establishing territory. Some that I have seen (or heard) recently are the sandhill crane, bluebirds, and killdeer. All who have easily recognizable calls, and in the case of the sandhill crane…loud!
So what about butterflies? It may be a while yet, but some butterflies overwinter as adults, finding safe places to overwinter. The mourning cloak, questionmark, and comma butterflies all overwinter this way. They have been known to come out on warm sunny winter and early spring days to sun themselves and possibly feed on oozing tree sap (another spring sign) I haven’t seen one yet, but someday soon?