Just weeks after our blizzard, Minnesotans are eagerly emerging from winter hibernation, and so are our butterflies! Looking for a way to satisfy your gardening fix and help butterflies at the same time? Pick up your free, limited-edition Pollinator Seed Mix of Minnesota-native wildflowers at the Butterfly Garden when it opens Father’s Day weekend, June 16, to help you get started planting for pollinators!
Spring butterflies and other awakening pollinators rely on the few flowers that have also opened at this time. Urban lawn dandelions can help in a pinch, but native wildflowers are best adapted to our conditions and provide the best resources for pollinators. Different butterfly species can be found throughout the year, so it is important to provide for pollinators in every season.
Did you know that almost all of Minnesota’s 146 butterfly species are year-round residents? Some, like the mourning cloak, hibernate autumn to spring as an adult nestled in woody crevices. Keep your eyes open for them flying around on the first warm days of the year, sometimes even before the snow melts! Other butterflies, like the cabbage white (a European species introduced to Minnesota), hibernate as a chrysalis. Needing at least a week of sustained warmth to emerge as adults, one of Minnesota Zoo’s butterfly biologists declared the “official” arrival of spring 2018 when he saw the first cabbage white in St. Paul on April 28.
Only a few butterfly species leave Minnesota for winter. Ironically, Minnesota’s State Butterfly, the Monarch is the most famous of these snowbirds, phenomenally migrating from Minnesota to Mexico each autumn. Look for their descendants to return to Minnesota in May. Some of our other migrant butterflies include the painted lady, American painted lady, and red admiral. The first red admirals and at least one American painted lady rode warm south winds to the Minnesota Zoo on April 30!
The Minnesota Zoological Garden is committed to saving pollinators. We practice pollinator-friendly landscaping and work to save Minnesota Endangered butterflies through the Prairie Butterfly Conservation Program. You can help too! Keep your eyes open and get planting!!