There are an astounding number of butterflies fluttering around the Washington Youth Garden these days. When our in-house school garden coordinator passed along a lovely photograph of a visiting Monarch, I had to call up our long-time volunteer “Butterfly Bob” to find out what is going on in the DC area.
While he wasn’t sure why we’re seeing so many more than usual right now, he does know that everything is related.
“The life cycles of butterflies are largely tuned by other things in nature. Butterflies don’t hatch in the middle of winter. Assuming everything is average, the flowers, the plants and butterflies arrive all together.
Late spring, May, there’s a pretty big surge in the number of species and there’s another one later in the summer, about now, and there will be another one in the fall. The Monarchs, for example, you see maybe a few all year long. [Currently] most of them are in the northern US and southern Canada. When their migration starts, we’ll see a big surge of them in the fall. They’ll lay their eggs and start hatching and that new batch will go to Mexico. Most butterflies are in chrysalis in the winter, some are eggs, some are larva and very few are adults. Even in January and February there will be a few under the leaf litter and in the bark of trees, like Mourning Cloak Butterflies.”