Occasionally during my winter walks my eye is drawn by signs of butterflies or moths. I wrote about one of them in early December, which, technically, was still fall, though there was snow! The Pine Tube Moth overwinters as a pupa inside a tube constructed by the larva from pine needles.
Not all butterflies and moths do the same…
Baby Isabella Tiger Moths spend the winter as larva. You might know them as Wooly Bears. (I remember the first time I discovered this. I was cross-country skiing near a building that had overlapping shingle siding. I watched a Chickadee fly to the side of the house and return to a branch with a Wooly Bear in its beak. I ponder to this day: How did that Chickadee know to find that caterpillar in that exact spot? X-ray vision, perhaps?)
I’ve been walking by a cocoon the last few days. I don’t know what kind of moth is inside. It’s quite the elaborate shelter, though, isn’t it? I’d love to find the larva one day in the process of making this. (If you know of the video on YouTube, please tell us in your comment!) Do you know the maker of this cocoon?
Look for Gypsy moth eggs on the bark of trees. Slip your glove off and pet them gently. It’s one of the softest things in the forest! (P.S. click here for a picture of a female adult laying the eggs.)
And I wrap this up with a photo “borrowed” from Tom (a.k.a. Mon@rch):
The Mourning Cloak butterfly overwinters as an adult, tucked in behind loose bark, or holed up in a tree den… And I look for them every winter… And I have yet to find one… (There’s GOT to be one somewhere behind some of that Shagbark Hickory bark I walk past nearly every day!)
The Mourning Cloaks will start appearing in early spring… or maybe in late winter if it is mild enough… So keep your eyes open!
So much variety in nature… It never ceases to amaze me.
Ooooh! Update (3/17/08). Here’s a great picture of a butterfly in winter:
I don’t know the species. But it seems to thrive in snow!