Whether or not it comes in like a lion, March sometimes heads out like a … butterfly. On sunny days in late March we often see the season’s first butterflies on the wing. But they aren’t newly emerged from a chrysalis; in “butterfly years” they’re ancient. The butterflies of March, at least here in the north, are among the few that over-winter as adults.
Mourning Cloak, Milbert’s Tortoiseshell and Eastern Comma are among the species that slip into natural cracks in trees or under the clapboards on homes in the fall, and pass the winter in a state of torpor.
When the sun emerges higher in the sky in March, some of these butterflies “feel the warmth” and take flight. Lacking nectar, they’ve got other matters in mind: spring breeding before their lives are over.