The Daily Bucket is a place to share or ask questions about your observations in the natural world. It is helpful if you can include in your comment a hint about your location so that the readers can put your observation into context. What makes this fun is that you never know what subject will drop into the bucket. Note: a splash of humor is not unusual either.2014 Winter Season
The winter season in Bisbee was mild this year. I say that because the expected winter temperatures ended in mid January rather than in March. After speaking to those who have lived in the area longer than I, the overwhelming consensus is that it is notably an unusual year.
Several butterfly species caught my eye on January 16th. Specifically, the Gulf Fritillary, which really surprised me. Since I was already taking notes about the birds in my yard, I thought it would be a good idea to start recording the butterfly visits as well.
My curiosity about the winter butterflies inspired me to learn more about their winter strategy. Some species of butterflies hibernate as adults during the cold months while others survive the winter as eggs, caterpillars or chrysalis. If the temperatures are warm enough, the adult butterfly will continue to be in flight.
I began to think that the overwintering adult butterfly doesn't have a lot of choice in flowering plants in January. I noticed for the first time, the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly fighting against the wind to reach the flowering Cottonwood catkins. It could be that behavior is normal and I just didn't notice it before. Judging from my photographs, last year the Cottonwood catkins arrived in early March compared to late January this year. The same time difference for the first Pipevine Swallowtail sighting and the flowering Quince.
My suburban garden has two early bloomers that are favored by the pollinators, the Henbit deadnettle Lamium amplexicaule and the wild violets. Not only do these so-called weeds support the pollinators early in the year but they are edible. If you are interested on that subject, check out Eat The Weeds.
Did my suburban garden, featuring non-native flora, provide the nectar the butterflies couldn't find elsewhere? It gives me food for thought.
Follow below the orange butterfly trail for pictured examples.
The information about the winter strategy of the butterflies was taken from Butterflies and Moths of North America. My first sight notes are not entirely accurate since I didn't think to start at the first of the year but it is a start for me anyway. Click on the pictures if you are interested in seeing a larger image on Flickr.
First sight noted Jan. 16th.
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