Butterflies in Maine are some of the most beautiful creatures that fly around and amaze us with their vibrant colors and distinctive nature. They captivate our imaginations and signify that beauty still encircles the earth and envelopes our dreams with their graceful flight patterns and playful behaviors.The Universal Writer
Butterflies in the state of Maine and much of North America are laid and get their wings starting in late April through June; however, they don’t undergo reproductive diapause. Instead, generation 2 larvae are widely spread throughout most of the eastern United States as well as North America from mid to late May.
To discover more about butterflies in Maine, different facts, migratory habits, and what makes them one of the most intricate parts of our ecosystem, keep reading.
WHEN DO BUTTERFLIES IN MAINE FLY?
When butterflies in Maine hatch their wings are malleable and very soft; therefore, butterflies need to hang vertically for about two hours before their wings can form and become firm enough to fly. Once the first two hours have elapsed, the butterfly’s wings are fully developed and drop completely, allowing them to take their first flight.
Below are some facts about when butterflies in Maine hatch and fly:
- As stated above, butterflies in Maine are hatched in late April through June and Monarch butterfly eggs can be found on milkwood plants on the underside of their leaves but mother nature isn’t their best friend as the eggs are a source of protein for ants, wasps, beetles, and other insectile species.
- Once the butterflies hatch and start nourishing on the milkwood leaves, they leave “chew marks” or holes that alert other predators that a meal is near. While insects like the taste of butterfly eggs, other creatures such as birds do not find them to be very tasty and stop eating them after their first bite.
- During late March and into April when the snow is still undulating from the vast landscapes of Maine, there are a small group of butterflies that emerge to find warmth in the sun. Often flying with tattered wings, these colorful harbingers of Maine’s spring wake and fly well before the trees begin to bud for the season.
Some of the first butterflies in Maine that are the first to take flight are known as morning cloaks and have dark, large wings with edges of pale yellow and decorated with blue spots and are very hard to miss as they fill the landscape and on warm spring days in Maine and perch in the sun and lush green forests with wings open wide.
CAN BUTTERFLIES IN MAINE SURVIVE THE WINTER?
There are many people who wonder if these beautiful creatures can survive the harsh winters in the state of Maine? In short, the answer is both yes and no. According to the biologist at the Maine Department of Inland Fishers and Wildlife, there are many signs that some species of butterflies in Maine do survive the cold, hard winter months.
Believe it or not, butterflies are delicate and wispy creatures and some do have to survive the frigid temperatures and tempest of Maine’s winter months that typically start in late November through early March; however, certain towns like Mapleton in Aroostook County can last until late March or even into May.
Butterflies in Maine have a range of strategies for dealing with Maine’s tough winter such as caterpillars that undergo a larva stage while others lay pupa (chrysalis) or eggs. Some butterflies migrate south like the Monarch Butterfly but some adults find refuge in Maine’s caves and survive the winter in Maine.
TOP 10 BUTTERFLIES IN MAINE
There are literally 100s of different specimens of butterflies in Maine. Seeing them all or describing them could be timely; moreover, we will take a look at the top 10 butterflies most commonly seen flying outside and in our visions of spring and summer among the goldenrod and sprawling meadows of Maine’s vast and neverending landscape.
Below are the 10 most common butterflies in Maine:
1. The Monarch Butterfly
The Monarch Butterfly (Danaus Plexippus) is one the most popular butterflies in Maine and is a magnificent creature with bright orange pedal wings combined with a black circumference with white spots and have a wingspan of 3.5 to 4 inches. They start life as caterpillars with yellow, black, and white bands and tentacles at each end of their bodies.
2. Painted Lady Butterfly
The Painted Lady (Vanessa Cardui) is a striking pinkish-orange color with black to brown marks near the wingtips coupled with encircled white spots inside of the black markings. They also have wingspans that measure 1.57 to 2.5 inches. As caterpillars, they have charcoal and greenish-yellow color with light-colored spots.
3. The Red Admiral Butterflies
The Red Admiral (Vanessa Atalanta) has a wingspan of 1.75-2.5 inches with a dark brown body and reddish circular bands with white spots complemented by an underside that closely resembles dark tree bark. The caterpillars are also charcoal with a pinkish-gray undertone with white spots and visible spines that look like hairs.
4. The American Lady Butterfly
The American Lady (Vanessa Virginiensis) butterfly has a wingspan of 1.75-2.5 inches and bodies colored with vibrant and brilliant orange textures combined with dark borders and purple and white spots and its underwings are ornate cobweb patterns. These circular shapes are used to warn off predators and make them look intimidating.
5. White Admiral Butterflies
The White Admiral (Limenitis Arthemis Arthemis) butterfly is a species with black coloring bodies coupled by a bright and undulating white band at the center of their wings and has a robust wingspan of 3-4 inches. The caterpillars are yellow, cream, and mottled brown with twig-like horns and angular body sections.
6. Morning Cloak Butterflies
Morning Cloaks (Nymphalis Antiopa) can be found among the deciduous forests in Maine and have black coloring with iridescent sheens with a row of purple spots along the outer edges of their wings that measure 3 to 4 inches and yellow border. Caterpillar has black bodies with white spots and a row of red specks on their backs.
7. Pearl Cresent Butterflies
The Pearl Cresent (Phyciodes Tharos) butterfly has a rather small wingspan of 1.25-1.75 inches with a bright blazing orange body with black lines, spots, and borders. They often resemble a lace pattern with their graceful black markings. As caterpillars, they are dark brown combined with spines and cream strips all over their bodies.
8. Question Mark Butterflies
The Question Mark (Polygonia Interrogationis) butterfly measures with a wingspan of 2.25-3 inches and have a deep orange body with a lavender edge and black spots. They inhabit Maine’s forests edges and moist wetland and prefer elm trees to nettle. The caterpillars are black to gray with cream and orange markings and spines.
9. Aphrodite Fritillary Butterfly
The Aphrodite Fritillary (Speyeria Aphrodite) butterfly are bright yellow-orange with a black cobweb pattern and dots and have a 2 to 3-inch wingspan. The underside of their wings is a black-ringed blueish color with white dots. Aphrodite Fritillaries can be found in Maine’s luxuriant pastures, fields, and meadows.
10. Common Wood-Nymph Butterfly
The Common Wood-Nymph (Cercyonis Pegala) butterfly has a 2 to 3-inch wingspan with varying colors; however, they are typically dark brown with darkened eyespots. They love open meadows, agricultural fields, and salt marshes. Caterpillars hatch in Maine’s late fall and hibernate throughout the winter.
Besides the top 10 butterflies in Maine, there are many other species such as Meadow Fritillary butterflies that are often misidentified to their European counterpart with the same name but the two butterfly species are distantly related.
BUTTERFLIES IN MAINE WITH A UNIQUE MIGRATION
Butterflies in Maine with a unique migration go to the Monarch butterfly. Each fall, the Monarch migration from North America travels from Maine’s absorbent breeding grounds to other winter locations along the east side of the Rocky Mountains. Maine Monarchs are a unique butterfly because they redefine long-distance migration.
Monarch butterflies in Maine can travel approximately 3,000 miles to certain parts of Mexico, making the Monarch the butterflies with the longest migration routes in the universe whereas some Monarchs take the shorter route to the west and migrate to the coast of California while returning to Maine in the spring.
THE BLUE INFINITY STONE WRITER