Saturday, February 20, 2016

First butterfly of the year!

A Question Mark, Polygonia interrogationis, basks in warm sunlight in Shawnee State Forest this afternoon. This species is an extraordinary dead leaf mimic, at least in this posture. When the wings are splayed out to the sides, the butterfly is more colorful and conspicuous. It was an unseasonable (it's February 20!) 65 F when I made the image. The butterfly had plenty of spunk, and I got only this one photo before it flew off, not to be seen again.

Question Marks, their close ally the Comma, and Mourning Cloaks overwinter as adults. It isn't unexpected to see any of them flying about during a midwinter warm snap. In fact, I'm surprised that I didn't see more of them today. It was just the Question Mark in the photo, another Question Mark/Comma type (never got near enough to tell), and one Mourning Cloak. I would have loved to photograph the latter, which nearly hit me in the head as it coursed about, but it never alit and was soon gone.

These butterflies will retreat back to sheltered nooks and crannies with the next cold spell. But their appearance on a late winter day, with snow still persisting in shaded spots, was a nice harbinger of spring.

1 comment:

Jared Gorrell said...

Where is the best habitat to see one of these butterflies?