Thursday, May 2, 2013

Butterflies or Bust!

This is the type of day when my husband makes fun of me for driving to try to find butterflies because later I find them at home.  I only had one destination, Wildwood Cemetery in Ashland.  Today, I wanted to check on the wildflower, Pussytoes, which is abundant in the cemetery.  It is a host plant for American Lady butterflies.  A host plant means that the butterfly will lay its eggs on the plant, and when the caterpillar arrives, that plant serves as its food source.

I had no luck finding any butterflies on the Pussytoes but am including a photo of them in case you haven't seen them before.


The only butterflies I saw around the cemetery were Cabbage Whites (snooze).   I did see a nice Eastern Bluebird.  I also walked over to a little bridge over a running stream to see if there might be any new bird species around the stream.  No birds, but I did scare a muskrat!

 Eastern Bluebird

 Muskrat, in panic mode

trying to blend in!

On the drive home, a Mourning Cloak flew across the road in front of me!

Now, here's why my husband makes fun of me.  After I arrived home and was heating up my lunch, I looked out my back window and saw a Mourning Cloak.  It flew right down to a leaf on the ground, where it waited for me to run for my camera and shoes!

Mourning Cloak

A lot of people are familiar with the Monarch and the fact that it migrates to Mexico (or California) for the winter.  You may not know that Mourning Cloak butterflies spend the winter in Massachusetts as butterflies!  (Some butterfly species overwinter in some stage of caterpillar.)  It amazes me that a butterfly can survive cold New England winters.  It finds a crack in tree bark, or a sheltered spot under the eave of a shed, for example, and hunkers down for the winter.  This is why it is one of the first butterflies seen in the spring (and sometimes even on a warm winter's day).

It's a beautiful sign of spring!

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