Spring butterflies in Manitoba

Manitoba Nature has posted the ten part A Snapshot of Butterflies in Southeast Manitoba: A citizen science project to record butterfly species and numbers by Richard Staniforth, Larry de March, Deanna Dodgson and Peter Taylor on their website. Reading this started me thinking about those butterflies that may be active during the City Nature Challenge. Consulting my well worn copy of The Butterflies of Manitoba by Paul Klassen, A. R. Westwood, W. B. Preston and W. B. McKillop, I have compiled the list below of fourteen species that have been seen in flight in Manitoba in April.

A butterfly needs to be pretty warm in order to fly around and it cannot generate its own heat internally like mammals. Spring butterflies use the warmth of the sun to give them that little extra boost. In Manitoba, the earliest butterflies overwinter as pupa or adults. The butterflies begin to emerge when daytime temperatures are around 15 degrees Celsius. The very hardiest may be active when the highs are just above single digits. Early observations frequently show the adults basking in the sun on pathways clear of snow or in sheltered spots on the dry grass.

Nectar sources are at a premium this early in the year. Those of you with conventional butterfly gardens may find them still dark and dormant. Early butterflies are attracted to flowering willows, alders and poplars as well as to sap runs on Manitoba maple and paper birch and to dung. Rotting fruit is another food source for these early emergers, so leaving windfalls in place in the fall now has a purpose! Don't rush to clean up standing dead stems and leaf litter as these are likely still sheltering overwintering insects as well as providing refuge when the temperature dips for those who have already emerged.

Once the saskatoons, chokecherries and wild plums start to bloom, the number of species active increases. Consider adding some of these early flowering shrubs to your butterfly landscape. As a bonus, many of these then double as the larval food plants. Something to think about as you make your gardening plans for after snow melt.

Some people will put out cut orange sections and slices of banana for early spring bird migrants. These may also attract butterflies. A sheltered sunny spot is more attractive to both the insects and the birds.

Species earliest iNat observations in Manitoba Flight period from Butterflies of Manitoba all iNat observations in Manitoba Larval food plants from Butterflies of Manitoba (native)
Compton Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis l-album) March 23 (March 20 to June 4) Manitoba observations to date Willows (Salix), Poplars (Populus), Alders (Alnus), Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera)
Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) April 3 (April 6 to October 12) Manitoba observations to date Interior Sandbar Willow (Salix interior), Poplars (Populus), Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides) American Elm (Ulmus americana), Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera)
Grey Comma (Polygonia progne) April 6 (May 5 to September 4) Manitoba observations to date Currants (Ribes), Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera). American Elm (Ulmus americana)
Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma) April 6 (May 17 to October 6) Manitoba observations to date Slender Nettle (Urtica gracilis), Wood Nettle (Laportea canadensis), American Elm (Ulmus americana)
Milbert's Tortoiseshell (Aglais milberti) April 9 (April 5 to November 4 ) Manitoba observations to date Slender Nettle (Urtica gracilis)
Green Comma (Polygonia faunus) April 14 (May 15 to August 20) Manitoba observations to date Prairie Willow (Salix humilis), Birches (Betula), Alders (Alnus), Currants (Ribes)
Lucia Azure or Northern Spring Azure (Celastrina lucia) April 15 (April 17 to August 13) Manitoba observations to date Blueberries (Vaccinum), White Meadowsweet (Spirarea alba), Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra), Viburnums (Viburnum), Plums, cherries and allies (Prunus), Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa), Dogwoods (Cornus)
Satyr Comma (Polygonia satyrus) May 17 (April 20 to September 22) Manitoba observations to date Slender Nettle (Urtica gracilis)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) April 26 (April 28 to August 11) Manitoba observations to date Slender Nettle (Urtica gracilis), Wood Nettle (Laportea canadensis), Pennsylvania Pellitory (Parietaria pensylvanica)
Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) May 18 (April 26 to October 14) Manitoba observations to date
Western White (Pontia occidentalis) May 1 (April 28 to September 27) Manitoba observations to date Mustards (Brassicaceae)
Silvery Blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus) May 3 (April 28 to August 11) Manitoba observations to date Vetchlings (Lathyrus), Milkvetches (Astragalus), Vetches (Vicia), Locoweeds (Oxytropis)
Eastern Pine Elfin (Callophrys niphon) April 30 (May 10 to June 17) Manitoba observations to date Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana)
Hoary Elfin (Callophrys polios) April 30 (May 5 to June 27) Manitoba observations to date Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

More Resources

A Snapshot of Butterflies in Southeast Manitoba: A citizen science project to record butterfly species and numbers
By Richard Staniforth, Larry de March, Deanna Dodgson and Peter Taylor
Below are links to the whole series of articles on the Manitoba Nature website

other contributors Michael Loyd, Jim Reist, Bob Shettler, G. Budyk, A. Drabyk, S. Hébert-Allard, L. Holbert, A. Jacobs, L. Klassen, R. Koes, B. Krosney, D. Martin, R. Mooi, D. Neufeld, R. Parsons, J. Pelechaty, D. Raitt, J. Rodger, N. Schmidt, J. Smith, R. Smith, D. Staniforth, J. Swartz, M. Waldron and J. Yatsko

Publicado por marykrieger marykrieger, 30 de diciembre de 2020

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