But why am I going into all this dreary detail about the weather? Because, after all the freeze and rain, we had butterflies. Yes indeed, BUTTERFLIES fluttering around the garden searching for nectar sources and warming their bodies in the leaf litter and on rocks. At first I had to blink twice, thinking I mistook a falling leaf for a butterfly (does anyone else do this?) but you can't mistake the bright yellow of a cloudless sulphur or the intense orange of a gulf fritillary.
These are truly amazing creatures! During rainy weather butterflies will perch on the underside of a leaf or crawl deep between blades of grass and wait. When temperatures drop below freezing they will find crevices in structures such as holes in trees, or hunker down deep in leaf litter. When the weather warms again and they bask in the sunshine they will flutter.
But after the freeze there are very few nectar sources. Poor butterflies take what they can get from the spent blooms. Just look at the skipper above searching for nectar in an azalea bloom after the freeze.
Violas are one of the few plants still blooming in my garden right now.
I decided to put out some supplemental food for these butterflies by placing an all natural sponge in some sugar water (4 parts water to 1 part sugar). It is a good idea when setting out a nectar sponge for the butterflies to be sure to place it high enough so the garden helpers (a.k.a. the dogs) don't think it is a delicious treat for them! Yes, Sasha made off with the sponge and Biscuit thought the sugar water was a delicious change of pace from his usual water.
While many butterfly species migrate to warmer climates for the winter some butterflies can live in cold climates where they spend the winter as caterpillars or a chrysalis. This past January we found an American Snout butterfly out and about on a sunny day. You can see my posts here.