Friday, August 23, 2013

Just Wondering: Why So Many Butterflies?

When we returned from vacation in mid-August I noticed something different in my neighborhood and while driving around. There were yellow butterflies everywhere, plus some other kinds, but mostly yellow.

A few days after that, Kirsty retweeted this from Justin Berk:
Cool, I'm not alone in noticing this. Still, I'm just wondering why are there so many butterflies? And do they really signal a cold or snowy winter?

The Farmer's Almanac is often referenced when people predict seasonal forecasts. Their list of 20 Signs of a Hard Winter mentions early Monarch butterfly migration, but those guys aren't yellow. (By the way, if you want to track Monarch migration, go here.) What we had here was a bunch of swallowtails.

Can you see 'em?
This Joe Pye Weed has at least five butterflies on it.

Some time searching the Internet (with frequent trips to Google to change the search terms) led me to conclude we've noticed a mass hatching, otherwise known as an irruption, coinciding with the recent blooming of Joe Pye Weed. 

I don't know if this flutter of swallowtails is a sign of cold or snowy winter, but if it is, it sure is a pretty one. Pigs gathering sticks, on the other hand....that's just funny.

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