While filling up my bird feeders, I glanced up and saw a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly in the roof of the shed. As I looked around, I found about fifteen more, wings neatly folded, just hanging around, waiting for spring to arrive. The old brick shed has a door that fits where it touches, but that’s exactly what these butterflies need, tucked up between the roof beams, out of the wind, but nice cool temperatures that don’t vary too much. The gaps around the door will allow them safe passage into a bright, spring morning where they will warm up and continue their journey, later in the year.
Image by Deb Depledge
Butterflies technically don’t hibernate, as insects they go into a dormant state when they overwinter. Many butterflies go into this dormant period as an egg, pupa or caterpillar, but some survive the winter months as adults. Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma and Brimstone all go through the winter, waiting for the spring when they can breed. You can sometimes see Red Admirals on warm, sunny winter days as they don’t tend go into full dormancy, as the others do.