Thursday, April 16, 2009

It MUST Be Spring Now

Our first butterfly of spring put in an appearance today at our bird feeders: a Compton Tortoise Shell (Nymphalis vau-album).

These attractve brown and orange butterflies overwinter as adults and are often the first butterflies seen when the sun warms the earth in the spring. By June they have reproduced and the next generation takes over. (Photo:

The larvae are light green and sport black spikes, and may be found feeding on their favorite foods: aspens, birches or willows. By July they have pupated and turned into adults, which will flutter about until fall temperatures send them into hibernation. (Photo:

This butterfly is in the family commonly called Brushfooted Butterflies (Nymphalidae), which apparently refers to the fact that the first set of legs are either small or greatly reduced. Why this is thus "brushfooted" I'm not sure, and so far I haven't found out. If anyone out there is a butterfly enthusiast and knows, please share!

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