Butterflies: A reason to enjoy each day

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Butterflies: A reason to enjoy each day

Categories: Blog, Garden Guru

It has been a long, warm fall, but butterfly numbers were not as astounding as 2006. My favorite butterfly, the large yellow Cloudless Sulphur, was still flying in the gardens this week. This tropical butterfly (native from Argentina to the lower Midwest) emigrates here in summer. It breeds and finds a host on wild partridge peas and sennas. By late summer and fall we can have good numbers of them in the gardens.

They remind me of flying sunshine and it’s always hard to understand that they will completely die off with the hard freeze–their eggs, caterpillars and chrysalises are all freeze tender. Unlike familiar Monarchs that migrate or swallowtails that overwinter as chrysalises, Cloudless Sulphurs are one of our many colonist butterflies that are killed by our winters but return each year from populations that survive in mild climates to our south.

There is evidence that some Cloudless Sulphurs migrate back southward in fall but also some stray northward as far as Canada! Most of the garden butterflies stay put, you can find them hunkered down in sheltering vegetation on cold fall days or find their frozen remains in winter garden clean up. I have had them alive in my garage as late as December. I feel they are a good reason to enjoy every day you are given.

Posted by Alan Branhagen, Director of Horticulture