In cold climates, butterflies aren’t out and about much in winter.
Where are they? How do they show up in spring or summer? Many butterflies pass through a few generations during the warm months, but the “fall brood” doesn’t simply die off. We’ve talked about how monarch butterflies make it through winter
by migrating. But migration is rare in butterflies. Here are other ways butterflies overwinter, with examples of species commonly seen in the eastern U.S.
Make a chrysalis!
Tiger Swallowtails (Papilio glaucus)
lay their eggs on a wide range of trees and shrubs, including wild cherry (Prunus
spp.) and tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera
). Caterpillars hatch from the eggs and eat the leaves. When mature, the caterpillar finds an appealing bit of tree bark, leaf litter or a plant stem. There, s/he builds a chrysalis and attaches it with a strong silk thread. The second generation of the year remains in the chrysalis in a dormant state for the winter. You can help ensure these beauties survive by leaving your perennials standing through the winter and by raking some leaves into your flower beds. This also create good insulation and mulch!
Tiger swallowtail butterfly
Tiger swallowtail chrysalis. Photo by TheAlphaWolf – Own work, commons.wikimedia.org