Frozen Butterflies!

We may only notice them flying around in summer, but nearly all of Manitoba’s butterfly species stay here all year. Some spend winter in the adult stage, but most go through winter as an egg, caterpillar or chrysalis. The hibernating stages (egg, caterpillar, chrysalis or adult) produce sugar-like chemicals in their bodies as antifreeze. It is the formation of ice-crystals inside a body that causes damage to cells and tissues. The antifreeze stops ice forming, so no damage occurs.

Compton's Tortoiseshell

Hibernating Stages

Click images for more.

Over-wintering Adults

Species that over-winter as adults (Mourning Cloaks, Commas and Tortoiseshells, all members of the sub-family, Nymphalinae) may be seen flying on warm, sunny days in late autumn or early spring, even in late March! They are some of the most long-lived butterflies. Mourning Cloaks can live as adults for 10 months.

Compton's Tortoiseshell
on snow.

Eastern Comma
Mourning Cloak on Pussy WIllows

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