Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Anti-freeze with Butterfly Wings

Photo by Lisa Brown, Flickr

What: A mourning cloak butterfly landed in the sun and remained still long enough for me to notice its wings were faded with tattered edges. (Though maybe not quite as damaged as the individual pictured above.)This observation made me wonder about this butterfly's life cycle and here's what I found out. . .
Mourning cloak adults can live ten to eleven months, making them one of our longest-lived butterflies. The adults we see in early spring have spent the winter in a kind of hibernation state. To stay alive through the Minnesota winter, they find a protected place and produce a chemical like anti-freeze. When temperatures warm (say 50 degrees or so), these individuals revive and look for a mate to begin the next generation.
Where: Bryn Mawr Meadows
Observer: Abbie
Date/Time: Wednesday, March 28, 5:10 pm

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